Traditional TV Companies Need Some Tangible Product Extensions


Relax and recline; what we really need is for a TV company to go into the couch business.

I’m thinking Kabletown has it right -- you know, the fictional cable company that owns NBCUniversal on "30 Rock."  Sofas are being pushed by NBC senior executiveJack Donaghy -– in part because he’s bored, in part because he secretly still misses the good old days when Don Geiss was his boss.

That’s when true vertical integration at major companies was in force, in the tradition of a real-life General Electric who makes jet engines, turbines, washing machines, light bulbs, as well as having a big financial services division and, now, a minority interest the big entertainment company called NBCUniversal.

In real life, traditional TV companies and networks have been slow to vertical or horizontally expand behind their TV-centric business. Sure some are in outdoor, some in print, some in digital. The biggest business was in getting on the cable TV network bandwagon – which in retrospect, in this digital age, doesn’t seem all that daring a product extension.



The winners in this area so far that would be Walt Disney Co., Comcast Corp, and News Corp.  CBS Corp., for all its great efforts in the broadcasting space, missed the cable network boat.

Question is,  where do all these companies go from here? Big traditional-based media companies –- like Disney, Comcast, and News Corp. – are all in the digital Hulu game. But even then there are many questions about whether to keep Hulu, the big digital video operation, going forward. Should they keep it in-house? Should they sell it off as an independent entity to hopefully grab bigger growth?

Other speculation comes from those traditional media companies linking up with bigger digital players: Google, Facebook, AOL, and others.  Maybe Netflix.

I wonder if even these great digital brand names could just be one phase in the step for other digital companies to take over. After all, we are told content creation is everything -- the rest is just distribution, a so-called pipe.

Couches? I’m thinking Kabletown’s next move should go further into tangible stuff: soft drinks, pizza, beer, toilet paper, and perhaps eyeglasses.

Hey, when you are Jack Donaghy and have been vice president of East Coast Television and Microwave Oven Programming for General Electric, you are always looking for the next TV-related soft-to–the-touch consumer product -- available in suede or leather.


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