There’s been a lot of chatter the past couple weeks about cable companies looking to capitalize on the move to viewing video online. Comcast is looking to debut ‘OnDemand Online,’ a web based VOD service for customers. Charter is bundling online sports content with a traditional linear sports channel package. All this NetVideo talk culminated this week with Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes coining the term ‘TV Everywhere.’ His concept suggests that subscribers to multichannel video packages from cable, DBS, and telco TV service providers should be given access to content online, or NetVideo, at no additional charge. Customers with no video subscription would have to pay for online video access.
Could such a scenario work? It would be tough. Mainly because some would argue that the NetVideo ‘genie is already out of the bottle.’ Millions access Netvideo for free now. Would regulators or Congress allow those ‘free’ rules to change? “If you want to watch your favorite TV network or shows through broadband on any device — PCs or mobile — you can do it as long as you subscribe to any multi-channel provider,” Bewkes told Advertising Age. “It’s a natural extension of the existing model.” Nice for those who profit from the existing model, but we doubt consumers and their proxies would stand for it.
The fact of the matter is Bewkes and others like him are scared. They fear the growing trend of NetVideo could threaten the status quo. Cable companies could experience a similar substitution threat that telcos now face with their core product. Early indications appear to suggest otherwise. Nielsen revealed recently that traditional television viewership is actually growing. In fact NetVideo adopters actually watch more TV than do exclusive TV viewers. Subscription video doesn’t appear to be in any material danger. At least not for a while. What’s all the fuss about?
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