In the latest Time Warner earning call, John Martin, Turner Broadcasting CEO, said there are too many U.S. networks, and that there is going to be a “rationalization” of channels going forward -- especially in light of new small digital TV services. Meaning many fewer networks.
As TV Watch has said, entertainment consumers will continue to be on a TV diet. (Throw in your “skinny” TV bundle reference, if you like.)
But you should probably ask: How did we get this way? Did the likes of Viacom, Discovery, Disney, and NBCUniversal expand too quickly, with scores of networks no one was ever going to see -- all in the name of grabbing more shelf space?
Pay TV providers have a share in this as well, signing on to these bloated deals because key channels among major U.S. network groups were the major tease. But to get the highly touted cable networks, they also needed to buy packages of new, unproven networks.
In the ‘90s, when cable TV network growth was high, many believe the rise of niche networks would never stop. One executive joked to TV Watch the Accountant Nosehair Network would be the next big announcement.
Turns out niche TV programmers were, in fact, big deals. Just not in the traditional TV ways. This came nearly a decade later with digital media websites and platforms.
We’ve already seen TV executives, such as those at A+E Networks, looking to position themselves for new smaller OTT services. Many are angling, for example, to be included in a select group of the top 25 or so networks for new packages.
Now that we have network executives talking about too many networks, can we remember any pay TV distributors (cable, satellite, or telco) executives doing the same? Probably not (except for complaining about the high cost of sports TV networks).
For U.S. entertainment consumers, it's always been about choices. But, back in the 1990s, few would have been able to quantify this with a specific number.
And that’s the problem -- and why we here today with consumers complaining about high cable TV bills, talking about only watching a handful of channels, and grousing about network glut.
Decades from now, will we be moaning about too much digital media, and why we are paying too much for it?