Fox 'Enhances' Consumer Value -- Other Nets Sure To Follow
It's a tricky scenario for traditional TV networks. How can they keep older distributors and retailers -- like cable operators -- happy while serving new fast-growing digital video sites like Hulu? The answer: Pry a few more dollars that come straight from consumers' hands.
Whatever happens, you can be sure that TV executives will offer this tired phrase: "We are enhancing the value for consumers."
Fox said as much Tuesday night. It would delay free online airing of its TV shows for eight days after being seen on the Fox network. But Fox fans could still get shows online a day after airing if -- and only if -- they had a monthly subscription from an approved distributor. This new process starts with a deal struck with satellite TV distributor Dish TV.
Now, don't blame just Fox. Time Warner's Jeff Bewkes has spoken of similar so-called "TV Everywhere" efforts as giving customers more "value." What happened with Fox will eventually occur with other networks, be they ABC, CBS, TNT, TBS or HBO.
As a consumer, I know what this means. Even though I'm watching and being subjected to big TV marketing messages and commercials, big media wants to make sure I'm also paying someone else -- a cable, satellite or telco company -- an extra monthly charge.
But if I'm already a customer of any of these TV services, free online video is not really adding more much value. The horse is already out of the barn and has been that way for sometime. It's not creating more value; it's giving me the exact same entertainment value -- or a bit less -- that I'm currently getting.
Fox did this because of pressure from cable companies and others who have made deals -- retransmission deals -- to carry Fox programming.
Give Fox credit. It took one for the team with a little ding, giving less value to the Hulu digital video website, a site it co-owns with Comcast, Walt Disney and Providence Equity Partners.
Seems we are all in this together. Well, I feel better now. <