Friday, January 21, 2011

Time Warner and the War Against Free (Bloomberg BusinessWeek)

At a trade show that celebrates the wonders of low-cost digital distribution, [Jeff Bewkes is] an emissary from the land of paid content. His message is simple and sharp: The devices may be cool, but anything that costs money to produce must be paid for, and any service or channel that doesn't carry its weight is destined to die.

For Bewkes, 58, the solution is a Time Warner initiative called TV Everywhere, which essentially forces customers to keep paying their $75-plus monthly cable bill to access television and movie content on any Web-enabled device they choose.

...The man who built his career over 23 years at HBO will not make his hit movies or shows available for cut-rate streaming at Amazon. Nor will he offer them for instant viewing at Netflix, where CEO Reed Hastings recently rolled out a $7.99-a-month deal for unlimited streaming of TV shows and movies. And Bewkes certainly won't let his product be given away on Hulu, which distributes most of its advertising-supported programming for free. Netflix has wooed more than 16 million subscribers, usually paying a fraction of what cable and satellite owners pay TV channels to run content. And while about 70 percent of the ad dollars Hulu takes in gets back to the content owner, those online ads don't draw anywhere near the audience or revenues of TV. That's why Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, and iTunes are potential enemies to Bewkes. He holds the view that companies such as Time Warner can only continue to make high-quality content if they preserve a business model that requires consumers to pay for the whole buffet. Any Web distributor can stream his content, says Bewkes, "if they pay us a billion dollars for a marquee show."
I tend to think the cat's out of the bag on this one. The ability to watch shows and channels on demand (either on the Internet, via iTunes, or from the "On Demand" button on the cable menu) is pretty ingrained in people now, and I'd venture a guess that most of us see that as the future of television.

Then again, I don't have cable, so I don't have a choice but to use alternate viewing options. Perhaps I have no idea what I'm talking about. What do you think?

Read the full article here.

1 comment:

Shaun said...

TWC and Comcast idea of TV everywhere, is more along the lines of online content everywhere. Working at DISH Network I like to follow new technology from all the providers, and the going thing for all cable and satellite companies is this online content. Who turned a simple idea of TV Everywhere into this complicated mess? TV Everywhere, simply put being able to watch the TV that you pay for a on monthly basis wherever you are. Not online content, not your recorded DVR's, but live TV, simply put, what is happening on the news? Let me find out and lets watch it. My Sling adapter hooked up to my DISH receiver allows me to stream my live tv to my phone or my netbook. Everywhere. See simple.