Monday, July 18, 2011

Will The Rupert Murdoch Empire Crumble

Certainly the media world is all over the hacking charges, the closure of News Of The World, the resignations of top officials, and now the resignation inside Scotland Yard. So one has to question, can we say with "certitude" that this has reached the pinnacle or will more bad news follow.

If it is uncovered that hacking of phones also occurred in the USA, which won't be surprising, then the answer is obviously no. But what does it mean for the Murdoch empire? With NOTW out of business, will other Murdoch properties also get undone. Are the future of The Wall Street Journal and Fox News (and News Corporation) also in the cross hairs?

"Founder Rupert Murdoch, 80, has long expressed a wish to hand his publicly traded News Corp. to his offspring, and he retains the voting power to make key decisions. But shareholders and board members are said to be troubled by revelations of wrongdoing on Murdoch's watch, and feel the U.S.-based company needs fresh leadership." How much change will happen and how quickly? Will it be simply a management change or something far worse? Not that they will close, but will Murdoch be forced to sell off his empire in order to survive? The empire is in disarray and that could open them up to an uprising or an attack from another land. John Malone and Liberty Media, are you dressing for war?

TV Everywhere Gaining Traction With Cable Operators

First it was about live streaming of TV networks inside the home, on untethered devices. With it came contract breakdowns, lawsuits, and limitations. But some networks found a value added opportunity. HBO built an app, HBO Go that when authenticated by your cable operator, enabled viewers to watch HBO movies, series, and specials on demand. And that was a good start.

But viewers want their TV anywhere and everywhere. The challenge to watch a live broadcast outside the home concerned programmers because they can't measure viewership. "Others are concerned that new devices, such as tablet computers, aren't included in Nielsen Co.'s TV ratings, which are used to set advertising rates. Some channels also lack Web rights to some of their programming." And some programmers are trying to renegotiate their license fees with operators for additional rights outside the home.

Well the needle keeps moving forward and Turner is taking the plunge with two of its networks, CNN, and Headline News (HN). "It will be available at launch through six pay-TV providers, with a total of about 50 million subscribers, according to SNL Kagan. But it isn't available through Time Warner Cable Inc., the country's No. 2 cable operator by video subscribers." Ironic given that Turner was once part of the Time Warner Cable family before they split into two separate companies, TWC and TWX, last year.

While news networks like CNN control almost their entire content, many other networks' content deals are far different. Their rights or windows may not allow them on demand or streaming. A web stream of their live channel will require networks to go back to all their content deals and renegotiate for those rights as well. So while it may be easy to stream CNN, TNT and TBS may be far tougher networks to offer streaming rights.

Regardless, mobile viewing and out of home access will be the next push by cable operators to retain and grow their cable subscription base. Live TV streaming to authenticated cable subscribers is a great first step in a changing entertainment landscape.