Walt Disney's chief executive Bob Iger wants to keep his digital options open -- and mostly free
Some of his business distribution partners feel they are being left out of the mix.
Disney revolutionized the whole idea of TV on new digital platforms -- first with its iTunes deal, then
with direct streaming of its shows on the Internet. Initially, much of this involved just the ABC networks shows.
Increasingly, this doesn't sit well with the cable industry. It
wants to extend its control of the video it airs on its systems -- from Disney network and cable channels, for example -- to online.
Cable companies might want to charge consumers a little
extra per month - or at least have those consumers be "authenticated" that they already have a traditional cable system agreement. Two cable-minded companies, Comcast Corp. and Time Warner, are
toying with this idea -- but Iger isn't likely to support it.
"Preventing people from watching any shows online, unless they subscribe to some multi-channel service could be viewed as both
anti-consumer, and anti-technology, and would be something we would find difficult to embrace," Iger said during the National Cable & Telecommunications Association's annual show
Cable operators don't like that big media companies continue to offer Internet viewings of TV shows free of charge -- while at the same time charging cable operators a sub
fee for carrying their programming.
TV executives believe extra digital platforms act like a big whirlpool -- creating more activity that brings more viewers into the mix. Research
has shown that, so far, the Internet and other digital airings haven't hurt traditional TV and cable platforms.
So why are cable companies worried? They are concerned they could be
pushed out of the mix in future years.
What do to? Perhaps solve the problem the same way media companies took care of its TV affiliates: give them a piece of the advertising revenue
Big media has to keep finding ways of keeping up with consumers -- otherwise everyone will lose. We'll be reduced to watching cats skateboarding -- or Web series where someone hosts
a late-night TV show out of his garage. (Hey, that sounds pretty good).
Start charging consumers extra for TV programming? Too many digital alternatives will give consumers many reasons to
stop cable service, power up a Kindle, watch a mobile device -- or, worst of all, just steal some content