Then again, don’t TV networks like Fox sell their TV programming to the likes of Netflix and Amazon? It may not be part of his industry, but it’s a part of his business.
Where’s the distinction?
To make matter more confusing, Fox is already partners with some of its big-time mainstream TV competitors -- NBCUniversal and Disney-ABC – in Hulu. And if that’s not enough, there are venerable TV brands looking to break out of the traditional mold: HBO, CBS and Starz all want to start up new Internet-streaming services that are not tied down to existing pay TV distribution agreements.
But Murdoch understands the limits here: How HBO needs to tread ground lightly to launch a standalone service while, at the same time negotiating with pay TV companies for its traditional HBO carriage. For its part, HBO says it only wants to target some 10 million people who don’t get cable.
Mind you, Murdoch isn’t the only one who has made this clarion call. About a year ago, John Malone, chairman/chief executive officer of Liberty Media, talked up the same need for the cable industry consolidate in an effort to find new revenue streams including a competitor to the likes of Netflix.
For big media companies, this has always been the rub: owning your own distribution network -- or not.
Starting up Hulu, the three big media companies wanted to control Internet distribution of their TV programming. But later on, the thinking was that if the business could be spun off, it could grow quicker.
Now we are back to square one, with perhaps a different Internet video business: not quite Hulu, and maybe not quite Netflix. Traditional media TV-based companies may want to form new businesses as an “industry” -- but that only seems to foster new problems.