Seek high and low for your underdeveloped networks, even in this digital media age.
News Corp. has a few of these channels, like Speed and Fuel, which News Corp. senior executive Chase Carey says "give us a real opportunity to do some really exciting things.”
If Walt Disney had an ESPN5, or Discovery Network a Rougher Seas channel, or Lifetime an Extreme Tears network, each could hope for the same: find a way to use a somewhat forgotten network and revamp it into a a more niche general entertainment channel, news channel, or perhaps a no-hold-barred-attitude sports network.
For long-time-established TV network groups, traditional TV growth still offers higher revenue growth versus digital areas.
Time Warner's Jeff Bewkes says networks smaller than the top 40 cable networks pull in $7 billion in affiliate fees. Yet they only contribute 17% of all TV viewing. The answer: They need to air better stuff.
Few independent channels exist. Crown Media Holdings' Hallmark group of networks remains one of the biggest. It wasn't long ago that analysts assumed CBS Corp. would be a likely buyer -- a broadcast-heavy company that might want a bigger cable presence for the right price.
TV still has a growth future, but times are a-wasting to get into "The 40-Channel Cable Club."
NBCUniversal has been trying to re-invent its NBC Sports Network -- and it's been tough going. (Right now, it could be tougher if the NHL, one of its prime properties, has its season delayed due a player-owner contract dispute).
The question for News Corp. and its channels is whether more sports programming is worth it -- and will consumers and multichannel TV distributors bite? Or is there real rebellion against more sports channels from distributors?
Sports networks continue to get big interest from both viewers and advertisers, as well as grabbing large affiliate subscriber fees. Quite tempting. On the downside: There is a non-stop voracious rush of competitors willing to sometimes mindlessly outbid each other for the next big programming package.
On the flipside, many say consumers are not under-served in the sports arena -- and therefore under-used networks should look to other areas. That means moving into more risky entertainment or non-fiction programming areas.
All to say the big gamble of reinventing networks is getting harder. News Corp. would need to speed things along for Speed and Fuel.