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TV Network Execs Not a Fan of 99-Cent Streaming Television Episode Rentals
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IPTV Feature Article

September 30, 2010

TV Network Execs Not a Fan of 99-Cent Streaming Television Episode Rentals

By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor

If you're planning on installing the reborn Apple (News - Alert) TV in your living room and you're looking forward to streaming your favorite shows for 99 cents a piece, you may be disappointed. While you and Apple may be hot on the idea, the TV studio executives most definitely aren't.

Time Warner (News - Alert) CEO Jeff Bewkes has gone on the record, as have a number of his peers at other networks, with the opinion that 99 cents is just too cheap for the content you would be getting. Said Bewkes to the Hollywood Reporter, “How can you justify renting your first-run TV shows individually for 99 cents an episode and thereby jeopardize the sale of the same show as a series to branded networks that pay hundreds of millions of dollars and make those shows available to loyal viewers for free?”

According to Bewkes, “new entrants in the TV marketplace must either support or improve the overall economics that funds and create the programming in the first place.”

In other words, if Internet streaming content providers wish to make premium television content available to viewers for prices that low, the networks have nothing to say to them except “Get lost.”

Bewkes is not alone. Jeff Zucker, the CEO of NBC Universal (News - Alert) who is on his way out, left a parting shot on the topic. Said Zucker, 99-cent rentals of television episodes would “devalue our content.” Sniff.

Viacom (News - Alert) CEO Phillippe Dauman, CEO of Viacom (which owns Paramount, MTV Networks and Comedy Central) and Warner Bros. CEO Barry Meyer have also come out against the price point.

So who is for it? Not very many, but there are a few. CBS is as yet undecided, while ABC and Fox have shown willingness to work with the 99-cent concept.

Entertainment companies have a history of swimming against the tide of technology: think of all the recording companies that were against MP3 downloads initially, even the paid downloads. The film and television industry has a notorious track record for being against things that ultimately aided them in sales, going back to the 1970s with their initial stances against VHS recorders.

Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

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