While options for viewing content online increase in both number and popularity, it is a worrying rather than a drastic situation for cable TV providers, and while there is no indication that internet TV will suddenly replace traditional paid options overnight, they will want to stem the conversion flow by any means necessary. Even if that means is more underhand than the internet TV providers would like, as a number of media companies have been accused of this week.
It is believed by some internet TV companies that some pay-TV providers (with Time Warner Cable cited as the prime example) are applying tactics to TV studios and networks. Using practices such as offering higher payments for content and even program cancellation threats, as a means of keeping shows away from digital avenues, and in particular stopping them from having exclusive shows.
Companies such as TWC are noted as doing their utmost to keep programming from potential big-name internet TV specialists (such as Apple, Netflix and Intel) and smaller subscription platforms, with retention of exclusive content widely believed to be a key factor in most modern content distribution negotiations with providers, as they look to maintain what is known as a ‘gatekeeper’ stance.
Responding to a suggestion in a report from Richard Greenfield (analyst for BTIG Research) that such methods were ‘anti-competitive’, TWC have hit back, saying of the rumours: TWC fired back in a statement Wednesday, saying, “The amount and scope of exclusivity and windowing in Time Warner Cable’s arrangements with programmers pales by comparison to that found between other players in the entertainment ecosystem.
“It is absurd to suggest that, in today’s highly competitive video marketplace, obtaining some level of exclusivity is anticompetitive. Exclusivities and windows are extremely common in the entertainment industry; that’s exactly how entertainment companies compete. This is why, for example, you can only watch ‘Fast and Furious 6′ in a movie theatre (not in your living room), Sunday Ticket on DirecTV and the new ‘Arrested Development’ episodes on Netflix.”
Greenfield had claimed that the strategy is ‘clearly bad’ for consumers due to the limitation of options, although it appears to be a matter for official organisations such as the Federal Trade Commission to determine whether or not this apparent ‘cable consipiracy’ is an illegal one…