Will YouTube save the old tube?

On GigaOM, Robert Young makes some bold predictions. According to his post Back to the Future… for Broadcast TV, from the disruptive forces of the Internet, the TV landscape is about to experience another tectonic shift. Just like multichannel cable drove viewers from the big networks to the cable channels, netbased on demand services will take their slice out of the multichannel viewing time. In just about five years, it is likely that most of the hundreds of channels we get today via our cable & satellite subscriptions will disappear and there will be only 10 to 20 “broadcast channels” left standing. Because niche cable networks, many of which are barely treading water now, cannot afford to lose viewers for their linear/broadcast channels.

Really? Here’s why not. Cable is not broadcast. If you look at the balance sheets of those tiny cable channels, it really depends on when they did launch. As a rule of thumb: the older the network, the higher it’s share from the subscriber fees. Which means: real viewership is important. But not that important. As ad revenues are dwarfed by the fees you get from the program packages the MSOs are selling.

And even for the MSOs, the real viewership of those channels is not the top priority. As they differentiate between reasons to subscribe (does anybody watch The Learning Channel?) and reasons to stay (the stuff people watch but would never tell theirs mothers about it).

And, not to forget: watching tv is about generation La-Z-Boy. It took about 20 years to convert network-tv viewers into multichannel zappers. So give me a good reason why they should convert completely in a snap from Seinfeld-rerun watching masses (all expenses covered) into proud decision makers, plowing through the abysses of a plethora of on demand programming, they might even have to pay for (yikes)?#

Of course, all networks, big and small, have to make their decisions on how to thrive and survive in an on demand world. What kind of rights to acquire, what kind of supplementary distribution platforms to choose.

But for smaller cable networks, the imminent threat isn’t the stuff on the Veohs, YouTubes, and the likes. The real threat ist à la carte programming. And the marketing invests which would come with it. That’s why an everything’s-on-demand-over-the-net-tv with a gazillion channels is a no go business district.
And mind that. Right now, YouTube et al mean great business – if you run Akamai or Limelight. But not, if you run a content comapny (not counting free promotion). And not even, if you run YouTube.

Via Digitaler Film

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s