Are retransmission fees inflating a bubble?

The economics of the TV business aren’t anywhere near as abstruse or opaque as the business of mortgage-backed structured finance. But the same sort of cockeyed incentives that inflated housing prices before that bubble burst sometimes seem to be at work in the TV business.

A TV Everywhere truce

To be sure, Time Warner Cable needed to avoid another CBS-like debacle. But Viacom, too, had incentive to avoid a protracted fight over carriage.

CBS changes channels

The CBS broadcast network is starting to behave much more like its sister premium cable network, Showtime.

Killing the golden pay-TV goose

The networks would rather continue selling rights to pay-TV providers on a market-by-market basis, as they do now, where they have most of the leverage, than risk facing a buyer with national market share.

A modest proposal for the next retransmission fight

Justice Department or Federal Trade Commission should treat the common practice of bundling low-rated networks like the Smithsonian Channel in with “must-carry” channels like CBS to achieve carriage fees and channel positions those low-rated networks would not command on their own as the illegal tying arrangement they clearly appear to be.

Bundles of joy

A report released by Needham & Co. senior entertainment and internet analyst Laura Martin argues not only that the current, multichannel pay-TV bundle is a good deal for consumers but that eliminating it by offering channels ala carte would be catastrophic for the TV ecosystem.

OTT becoming more like pay-TV

Netflix has made no secret of its goal of becoming more like HBO by pushing into original series, but BTIG Research analyst Rich Greenfield detects signs that Netflix’s long-term strategy for aping premium cable may go beyond original productions.

Spoil sports: The coming showdown over TV sports

Over the last 20 months, national networks have agreed to spend $72 billion over the next decade for TV rights to professional and college sports, the Olympics, and other major sporting events, according to a study published by the Philadelphia Inquirer. Add in the commitments for local broadcast rights made by regional sports networks such as YES in New York and the total probably exceeds $100 billion.

NBC and the Olympics: Old ways still earn gold

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.

Today in Connected Consumer

SpongeBob’s long national nightmare is over. Viacom and DirecTV have struck a deal to return Nickelodeon and 25 other Viacom channels to the satellite-TV service, ending a nine day blackout that had caused pain all around. Hard to know who blinked until more details of the deal trickle out, but initial reports say DirecTV will pay Viacom at least $600 million a year, representing roughly a 20 percent increase over their previous deal. That’s a hefty bump but less than the 30 percent DirecTV had said Viacom was demanding. Nerves are apparently still raw, however, even with the networks back on the air. “The attention surrounding this unnecessary and ill-advised blackout by Viacom has accomplished one key thing: it serves notice to all media companies that bullying TV providers and their customers with blackouts won’t get them a better deal,” DirecTV executive VP Derek Chang said in a statement. That sounds more Cartman than SpongeBob.