Wednesday, February 25, 2009

TV Everywhere? For Free, Maybe

The cable industry is looking to head off marginalization by extending their offerings to the Web. At first, I thought it would be another failed attempt similar to how the radio industry tried and failed at a walled garden strategy. Now, I am not so sure.

The Associated Press reported last week that, "The largest cable operators are in talks with media conglomerates to take back control. They would create a platform to release cable TV shows online, but exclusively for paying subscribers. Those involved include Comcast Corp., Time Warner Cable Inc., Cox Communications Inc., Cablevision Systems Corp., General Electric Co.'s NBC Universal, News Corp., Viacom Inc. and Time Warner Inc. "

This week Advertising Age followed up with an interview of Time Warner's Jeff Bewkes.
Bewkes suggests the content would be free for exisiting subscribers.

"For 85% of U.S. households, the added access would be, essentially, free. Mr. Bewkes said he anticipates there will be a Web-only option for those who don't have pay-TV service," according to the article. That strategy may have legs depending on the details.

I should also note that I spoke with someone in the industry last week who said the back office billing would be easy for the cable companies. They already have platforms that extend to the Web easily and provide the necessary DRM to restrict access to content based on subscription status.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Another Threat to Local Media

Local Media is about to lose even more of its sacred ground. ESPN is launching a local initiative. Local media companies should see this for what it is, a direct assault on them. ESPN will be in a position to take local ad dollars from local media. Local media should either partner with ESPN or get in the game and compete for those dollars with microsites and local verticals.

As the Tribune story states: "Local and hyperlocal publishers are among the most important growth areas for interactive publishing companies and the interactive ad industry," said Randall Rothenberg, chief executive of the Interactive Advertising Bureau. "There's an innovation explosion already under way in this area."

I am waiting for CNN, MSNBC and others to make a similar move.