Networks Face Choices In Making Deals About Choices

Dish Network wants viewers to have a choice in how they skip TV commericials, with its new AutoHop feature allowing consumers to skip prime-time ads in bulk. I believe TV networks should also offer a choice to some business partners.

For instance, instead of charging 50 cents per subscriber per month, a network could treat Dishs heavy fast-forwarding consumers like video-on-demand subscribers - and charge $5 per month for each of them.

Business dynamics of traditional TV sellers keep changing as they look for choices and answers.

The NBC Televison Network is a bit behind other media companies in some key business metrics. Steve Burke, president/chief executive officer of NBCUniversal, says NBC makes "a little money, but not very much" while network competitors generate between $700 million and $1.5 billion in operating cash flow.

But if you think it is just NBC TV behind the eight ball, you'd be wrong. Some of NBCU's cable networks are also a bit under-market. Though USA Network, for example, still leads in many primetime ratings measures, Burke says "its affiliate fees are substantially lower than other general entertainment cable channels like TBS or TNT."

And advertising revenues? Much the same, especially for the likes of USA. "If you're looking at advertising, our CPMs for our big cable channels we think in some instances are 25% or 30% below others."

Retransmission consent fees? Burke says NBC makes hardly any money in that area.

So there is much ground to make up -- all while big media companies continue to offer "choice" and consumers continue to have seemingly thousands of new and old media choices across the entire entertainment landscape.

NBCUniversal and other programmers perhaps need to make more complex deals with their business partners, or just do some skipping of their own -- to deals with other companies.

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