No More Media 'Disruption,' Just Some Slow-Melting Icebergs
“Be disruptive" is a continued cry for many media companies, both traditional and new. CBS might be taking much of this to heart. Years after major TV-based media companies committed to partnering and selling programming to Hulu and Hulu Plus, CBS has made a slow foray into the big digital video site.
CBS has done another deal with Hulu Plus but, like the previous one CBS and co-partner Warner Bros made for CW shows, this new deal is mostly for older CBS network library product -- some 2,600 episodes of shows like "Medium," "Numb3rs," "Star Trek," "I Love Lucy" and "The Twilight Zone." Also included in the deal is "CSI: Miami," which is still on the air.
But this is just a programming deal. CBS is not partnering with other big traditional TV-based media companies like Walt Disney, NBCUniversal and News Corp, which co-own Hulu.
With the deal for CW programming, consumers can only access episodes through last season, the same arrangement in place for "CSI: Miami." CBS/Warner Bros. made a similar deal for CW with Netflix, another subscription video on demand service.
In a related story, Netflix might be getting "disruption," now that the always stir-the-pot investor Carl Icahn has revealed he owns 10% of the company. In announcing the deal, Icahn called for consolidation, what with the likes of Amazon Instant Video and other SVODs growing.
Under CBS’ current way of thinking, digital video deals are part of its plan but only at the right price. Making nonexclusive deals allows CBS to spread the wealth
Allowing consumers to only access shows from up to a year ago is the direct result of a still-prosperous business model. CBS continues to do much better than other networks in drawing viewers to older programming, for which it can still sell inventory to advertisers at decent pricing.
Former NBCUniversal executive Jeff Zucker has valued digital video deals as "dimes," not dollars. That is still true – and it has given many traditional TV content owners some pause.
Maybe new media deals need a different way of thinking. Perhaps one mantra could be to “be glacial," like slow-moving or melting ice. Big icebergs still pack a lot of punch.