The war of words between broadcasters and Dish Network over Dish’s AutoHop ad-skipping technology is heating up along with the litigation each side has filed against the other. On Wednesday, CBS CEO Les Moonves threatened to pull CBS stations from Dish if the satcaster doesn’t ditch AutoHop. “Hopper cannot exist,” Moonves told an investor conference in LA. “If Hopper exists, we will not be in business with (Dish). We cannot produce episodes for $3.5 million a piece and have the people at Dish say they will pull out the commercials. We will not be on Dish. We will go elsewhere.” Yesterday, Dish CEO Joe Clayton fired back, accusing CBS of trying to “bully” consumers. “Let me say this to Mr. Moonves and the broadcasters,” Clayton said at an investor conference in NY. “They would be well advised to tune in to the consumer. Give the consumer a better experience and everybody wins. The fast-forward button didn’t kill the television business.” Good thing they were 3,000 miles apart.
Although the networks have complained in recent years about the high costs of rights for major sporting events, to say nothing of the impact those high costs have on the carriage fees the networks demand from pay-TV distributors, nothing in NBC’s experience with the London Games suggests its time to change that formula.
The backlash to the backlash against NBC’s coverage of the Olympics has begun. Yesterday, The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson laid out the cold business logic for why NBC is not broadcasting the most compelling Olympic events live in favor of forcing viewers to watch them on tape delay during prime time. Now, Advertising Age, Variety and Sports on Earth blogger Will Leitch have all weighed in in defense of NBC for ignoring the madding crowd on Twitter and sticking to its prime time guns. Even The Onion has gotten into the backlash-to-the-backlash act, “quoting” NBC digital chief Vivian Schiller apologizing for not altering the invariant properties of the space-time continuum to allow people to watch live during prime time that occurred earlier in the day. Next up: the backlash against the backlash-to-the-backlash.
This could turn out to be a pivotal week in the history of over-the-top video. On Wednesday, YouTube will host a major event for marketers and advertisers in New York to showcase the 90 or no channels of original programming now playing on the streaming video site. The event is timed to coincide with the traditional broadcast and cable network “upfronts,” when producers promote their new shows to advertisers and try to lock in ad commitments for the year. YouTube’s crashing of traditional TV’s annual party comes as both broadcasters and cable networks are suffering severe ratings declines and could mark a turning point in the battle between the incumbent TV powers and over-the-top interlopers. The incumbents are sitting by idly, however. According to Claire Atkinson at the NY Post, who generally has very good sources, OTT poster child Hulu is about to get reeled in by its incumbent network owners. Atkinson reports that Hulu will soon begin a shift to an all-authenticated model, severely curtailing the availability of free, ad-supported network content on the web. Taken together, the moves hint at a future of OTT video based not on providing the same content by other means but of using other means to deliver new types of content.
Not unexpectedly, essentially every broadcaster in New York has filed suit against startup Aereo, which plans to offer broadcast channels in the New York market via streaming for $12 a month. The broadcasters claim the plan violates their copyrights by redistributing their programs without a license. For reasons that aren’t fully clear yet, the broadcasters filed two separate suits, one brought by the owners of stations affiliated with Fox, the CW, Univision and PBS, and a one brought by the owners of the local ABC, CBS and NBC stations. The complaint in the first case is available online here. Aereo has issued a statement claiming neither suit has merit. “Consumers are legally entitled to access broadcast television via an antenna and they are entitled to record television content for their personal use,” the statement said. “Aereo provides technology that enables consumers to use their cloud DVR and their remote antenna to record and watch the broadcast television signal to which they are entitled anywhere they are, whether on a phone, a tablet, a television or a laptop.” See you in court.
A new survey has revived the fear that digital ad spending will shrink the overall pie. While newspapers have it tough, other big ad markets are still pretty healthy, and technologies like targeting and social media advertising could still increase the value of — and thus spending on — both digital and traditional media.
The steep prices of the NFL’s new broadcast rights deals are likely to put pressure on rapidly growing fault lines within the pay-TV industry that could, ironically, accelerate the breakup of the broad bundle of channels at the core of the current business model — something competition from over-the-top video providers has thus far been unable to achieve.
Sonic.net could soon be one of the first ISPs to introduce a TV service delivered over its broadband service. With the filing of a video franchise application with California’s Public Utilities Commission, Sonic is on its way to creating its own streaming video service.
In a somewhat uncharacteristic move, Fox has released one of its new fall shows early on the iTunes Store. You can now download the full pilot episode of Fox’s New Girl, a half-hour comedy starring Zooey Deschanel, for free with a U.S. iTunes account.
Google chairman Eric Schmidt was on a diplomacy mission to UK broadcasters late last week. His pitch? The Internet will make TV more personal, more social and enable better monetization and measurement opportunities. And Google wants to help them take advantage of those changes.