TV networks want consumers to acquire their shows in other-than-legal ways
I know my post title is inflammatory. But it’s the first thing I thought when I heard that the cable companies are trying to make online TV shows available only to people who subscribe to cable. What I said in my post title is certainly not a new idea. The only people the networks are hurting here are the people who are trying to do the right thing by buying content on iTunes or Amazon, or by watching streaming video with ads.
How many ways are the networks earning money? There’s the normal broadcast TV way, with the ads that they sell. I think that’s still the major way most people consume TV. Then there’s iTunes and Amazon and whoever else sells shows a la carte and by seasons. There are DVD box sets. There are cable subscriptions. There are online streaming sites that have ads. How many other ways do they need to sell their content? Don’t even get me started on how little the writers, actors, and crew of huge money-making shows actually get from the total revenue raked in by the networks…
Cable providers might be losing money from a downturn in cable subscriptions, but only providing online content to those who pay for cable is both stupid and arrogant. Do they really think that the people who currently have shifted to services like Hulu are going to pay for a cable subscription just to keep getting what they used to get for free? I don’t know why I keep getting surprised by the stupidity of these TV networks. They’re all motivated by blind greed and that’s all they’ll ever aspire to. Duh! But the lows to which they stoop in order to maintain their current business model are always surprising and frustrating to me.
I have limited buying digital content like TV shows or movies because in general I still like to have the physical media, mainly because Blu-Ray quality is still a lot better than iTunes quality. And TV/movie studios still put a lot of extras on the discs that you can’t get when you buy the TV show/movie digitally. The studios know that extras draw people in. So why don’t they do something similar for online video? If they want to reward people who subscribe to cable/satellite, why don’t they produce original content that only subscribers can get? Or heaven forfend they lower cable costs so that it’s more affordable for more people and draw new customers simply because it’s cheaper than using iTunes, Netflix, Amazon, and the like. Merely providing the shows that you can watch for free over-the-air or online is not enough to entice subscribers. That is just the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard from the networks yet. And of course it would be the idea to win out. The networks want to do the least amount as possible in order to get the most ROI. Instead of rewarding people for their loyalty, they continue to screw us over. It’s disgusting. I can’t wait for major TV producers like Joss Whedon, J.J. Abrams, Carleton Cuse, and Damon Lindeloff to start producing shows and distributing them directly online without the TV networks. That day can’t come quickly enough.