The popularity of cable TV and Internet-based content has fractured free TV broadcasts as the industry continues to struggle to find advertisers and new viewers amidst a bad economy and new competition.
A combination of too many ways to view content and less ad dollars is putting pressure on content owners, as broadcasters expect even less ad revenue in 2010. Could an end to free, over the air broadcast TV be looming in the near future?
For example, Fox said it may black out Time Warner Cable subscribers from watching popular sitcoms and college football bowl games at the end of the week — mainly because Fox isn’t happy with the fees it is receiving from Time Warner and other companies.
The outlook may change in the near future, with Comcast now controlling 51% of NBC. Major television networks ABC, NBC, Fox and others are now moving material online, but they are still having trouble competing with Hulu and other more established sites. Furthermore, many individual sitcoms offer full episodes, show clips, trailers, and similar material online.
If advertisers are unable to bring in adequate funds for broadcasters, subscribers may have to pay more for cable and satellite TV bills. The problem is, many cable and satellite subscribers say they either won’t pay more, or are unable to pay more if subscription prices increase.
Comcast’s TV Everywhere service, available only to subscribers, is supposed to offer a one-stop shop entertainment portal for consumers. If broadcasters want to remain relevant moving forward, they may have to launch similar online businesses, learning from the successful decisions and mistakes made by Hulu and Comcast.