Current TV needs to focus on getting better programming or perhaps lose carriage from U.S. and other distributors -- this according to an SNL Kagan
media business analyst.
Despite its current problems with star anchor Keith Olbermann, SNL Kagan TV analyst Derek Blaine says: "Current TV will have to get its programming act together or it could face the possibility of being dropped by distributors."
Blaine says even with Olbermann on board, there have been rumblings internationally. News Corp. partially-owned BSkyB dropped Current TV in January of last year, about a month before Olbermann came on board. News Corp.'s owned channel Sky Italia dropped Current TV this past summer.
The good news? Current TV is in a healthy 65.8 million U.S. homes, according to Kagan. The downside: it has been making only $26.2 million in profits, a tiny sum considering its size as a U.S. cable network. Blaine notes Current Media, the parent company of the network, tried to do an IPO in January 2008. But due to poor market conditions, it had to pull that plan.
Blaine says Olbermann still pulls in just one-third of the viewers he earned at MSNBC -- which is probably frustrating to Current TV executives. For his part, reports suggest Olbermann has been concerned over Current TV's slow-moving growth pace -- as well as technical glitches at network operations.
Dropping established networks by big U.S. program distributors is rare -- but it can happen. The NBC Universal-owned cable network Trio, once a sister network of Current TV, was dropped by DirecTV and eventually shuttered.