Fox First To Get Viewers Involved In Newest Network-Operator Tussle

Another TV threat has started -- this one from the broadcast networks, now saying: "Tell your cable, satellite or telco operator to get on board with 'TV Everywhere' plans -- otherwise we'll hold your favorite show hostage."

The broadcast networks used to make threats around the retransmission fees stations demanded. It sounded like this: "Hey look at what your cable operator is trying to do!" Or, from the other prospective, the cable industry's: "Hey, those networks you used to get for free? Well, they want money from us now -- and, in turn, you."

Fox made a deal with Dish that effectively pushes non-Dish subscribers into an eight-day delay mode for online airings. That means you can't get your "Family Guy" or your "Glee" the day after it airs on Fox unless you are a Dish customer.

Whatever happens, don't blame only Fox. You'll be seeing a lot of this from other networks too.



Overall, networks and TV retailers (cable, satellite, phone companies) still haven't figured out an appropriate business model -- ad revenue sharing, license fees, etc. -- for online and mobile platforms. You would think that having users watch plenty of online advertising was enough for some networks, especially because consumers can't fast-forward through those commercials You can feel the tension.

All this technology has been rubbing traditional TV companies, like cable operators, the wrong way. That's why companies like Time Warner and Cablevision have set up their own mobile apps -- which has had the likes of Viacom and others pissed off. Cable operators believe their existing deals with networks give them exclusivity when any video is watched in the home, through any wired or unwired video device. Some of those legal threats have subsided as parties have made deals.

This is partly because Hulu is still network-owned. Cable/satellite/telco operators view Hulu as a competitor. Consumers might think -- as many have: "Why do I need those older TV retail companies when I can get virtually all the shows I want from a digital platform the networks own?" That's the rub -- in part --- and why networks need to cash out of this business.

There is some irony here: It was cable providers who were pushing TV Everywhere tactics to protect their existing video consumer bases. Now it's networks pushing cable operators and others to make TV Everywhere happen quickly -- to resolve future digital issues.

Fox's pleading is a start: "Frustrated?" says a Fox blurb to consumers on its website. "Join your fellow subscribers and let your TV provider know that you want access to all full episodes on We will send an email when your provider's status changes."

They mean: When a deal gets made.

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