Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Time Warner Cable Delivers Primetime On Demand

Who needs a DVR or Tivo when you have VOD. A DVR is proactive, you must act on an interest and set up your recording options in advance. Of course with on-going series, that needs to happen just once and all future recordings occur. And you can control the trick features - fast forwarding and rewinding to your hearts content. The beauty of VOD is that it is reactive, that even though you missed it on the linear schedule, you can still watch it later, without any advance work. Great for viewers who no longer feel physically tied to a TV schedule, and great for the programmer, especially if their ads can still get noticed. And it is easier for the programmer to disable those trick features, forcing the viewer to stick with the ads that run.

So who gets hurt. Well for all cable programmers and cable operators, VOD seems a win-win all around; but for broadcast affiliates, especially those not owned and operated by the network, they may not be so lucky. Regional network affiliates rely on regional ads to run inside national broadcasts and for viewers to watch. If a network show is DVR'd, their regional ads still get captured. But what happens when a network VOD show runs across markets. CBS gets its national ads run, but the regional ads on WCBS in NYC or KCBS in Los Angeles, or in any regional DMA are simply not seen. They have lost the viewer and they have lost the ad revenue. The network affiliate is the one who gets hurt from national broadcast of TV shows on VOD.

The network affiliate model is being uprooted as the national programmer provides VOD as an alternative for its audience to watch its programming. It may assure eyeballs, but network VOD may just kill broadcast affiliate relations. VOD delivers what you want when you want it. But for the networks, it does have a cost.

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