Cable Networks Face Competition In Unexpected Categories
Apparently, you haven’t been looking at the category of weather networks.
DirecTV has recently taken on a network called WeatherNation, which apparently will compete with one of the oldest cable networks, The Weather Channel. Should anyone be surprised? Competition continues in other cable network categories. For example, last year Fox Sports 1 began -- to eventually compete with ESPN. NBC Sports Network, now NBCSN, had revamped earlier in the year.
Also in 2013, Al Jazeera America began competing with all the cable news networks. AXS TV and Revolt? They’re attempts to take away MTV-like young-skewing ad dollars. Esquire, Pivot, and others look to find their way in with general entertainment fare -- somewhat younger-skewing as well -- all of which includes a lot of reality TV programming.
Mind you, those networks will also tell you they are looking to find underserved pieces of audience -- be they young, male, female, urban, or whatever.
DirecTV may have something else in mind -- perhaps to use WeatherNation as leverage against The Weather Channel, which is co-owned by NBCUniversal and private equity firms Bain Capital and Blackstone. Right now DirecTV is in renewal carriage negotiations with The Weather Channel.
The Weather Channel may not be looking for big rate increases. But competition is good for business, right? The Weather Channel already faces many weather competitors in the new digital apps world.
Still, The Weather Channel isn’t on the rate level of, say, USA Network or TNT, both of which sit at around $1 per subscriber per month. Right now, according to SNL Kagan, The Weather Channel gets a very modest 13 cents.
Increasingly, multichannel TV distributors -- such as DirecTV, Dish Network, Comcast and Time Warner Cable -- may worry about programming rate increases, especially from the likes of those high-priced sports programming networks. But what DirecTV and others may be doing is focusing on all networks -- lower profile channels as well as bigger ones -- to gain leverage.
So think about other areas. Animal Planet? Should there be another animal-centric TV destination -- DogTV notwithstanding? What about more fitness networks -- yoga, boot camp, and cross-fit?Look around and see what rocks to turn over, and then ask which TV program distributors need more leverage and which channels could be under attack. We may need better signs for “barking,” temperature estimates, or reasons to do even more bench presses.