Friday, February 28, 2014

ABC Streaming The Oscars ... With A Catch

At first glance, the news that ABC would be streaming the Oscar telecast on Sunday was good news to cord cutters and non cable households.  But the truth is in the fine print, you must first be an authenticated cable customer.  "In order to access WATCH ABC, you must have a cable subscription through Comcast, Cablevision, Cox Communications, Charter Communications, Midcontinent Communicaitons (sp), Verizion FiOS, Google Fiber or AT&T U-Verse in either New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Houston, Raleigh-Durham or Fresno."  Certainly added value for cable customers not able to watch through their cable box.

But what if ABC offered the Oscars to everyone, whether they bought cable or not.  Would they really lose broadcast viewership or would they gain a much larger number of consumers who would like to watch but aren't authenticated.  And if they can monetize the advertising of the video stream, could it be a profitable tactic too.  I'm sure the big worry is to risk losing license fees that they get from their cable operator partners.  Its why they are fighting Aereo. 

And wouldn't each ABC affiliate in each market want to show their own streaming feed to maximize their local ad load too.  By limiting to authenticated viewers only, the ABC Network most likely expects that it won't materially affect its affiliates ratings in each DMA.  But would opening the stream to all web enabled devices be more favorable than problematic.  Or is the concern that it could lead to letting the genie out of the bottle and lead to widespread cord cutting.  Doubtful.