Friday, April 20, 2012

CW Network Leading Push Away From Traditional TV

Terrific WSJ read today about how the CW Network is risking viewership on traditional TV to embrace new media.  With content clearly aimed to a younger, technology loving audience, the CW has recognized that its future growth rests with new media.  Like others before them, the CW must risk the loss of viewers in one platform for hopefully a bigger gain and more revenue in another. It is a risk Netflix also has been dealing with as it too has moved from a mail order DVD business to a streaming model.   Knowing that their audience is embracing mobile and web platforms and dropping their reliance on a cable subscription, CW is betting heavily on the strategy of getting its content quickly onto these other platforms.

While ratings on TV have dropped since 2010, views on Hulu, Netflix, and other apps have grown.  And it appears that revenue from these "deals has helped partially offset losses that in recent years had topped $100 million a year".  Embracing new media at the expense of the old may have short term problems; still, recognizing  that the consumer  has moved to these other platforms and that they need to be accessible, is in the long run a very smart move.  Like everything else, the question that looms is timing.

Keeping one foot in the old platform while stepping forward in the new comes with many dangers.  Old technology does not want to compete with the new and seeing content available in both platforms is not well received.  Cable operators of the CW will fight back to protect their "exclusivity" of content from online.  How much is shared and how recent is the content that is on TV before it hits online will result in plenty of fights when license agreements come up for renewal.  With the CW owned by both CBS and Time Warner, a larger fight could be looming.

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