As Premium Content Changes, Lines May Blur Between Broadcast, Cable, Streaming

Big finales, with record ratings for HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and CBS’ “Big Bang Theory” mean consumers still love big TV events. That’s a common denominator.

But looking deeper, can you explain, with old-school labels, what is different? Consider tags that include "adult," "Family programming," or "FCC safe." 

Think about this when considering new OTT platforms for premium TV shows. With all major traditional media companies looking to expand with new digital platforms -- ad-free and ad-supported -- one needs to ask questions that might have been asked in 1993.

Any profanity, sexually explicit or other family-oriented programming coming our way when considering buying into one specific channel? Seems like it doesn’t matter. Newfangled electronic program guides on digital platforms tell all. And consumers can read.

For many, previously there were issues about programs running on an ad-supported channel versus an ad-free (premium) cable?



When marketing to modern media consumers now, the only real concern when thinking about ad-supported (lower or no-consumer fees) services or advertising-free (with consumer fees) platforms is price.

Does this mean the lines are blurred between what was assumed to be racy premium cable content -- HBO, Showtime, and Epix -- and what you might see on CBS, the CW, or Hallmark Channel?

Broadcast networks and local TV stations still need to abide by FCC rules. But cable, OTT and digital? Nope.

Even then, for a long time, ad-supported cable TV networks, tended to shy away from heavy racy/”adult-situations” content that in the early '90s you could only get on HBO or Showtime.

Why? Because ad-supported cable networks want those big broadcast network-like advertising dollars.

Now there is much more melding of content. So much so that John Stankey, CEO WarnerMedia, wants to significantly increase the number of top quality programs that HBO has produced over the last few years for a wider audience.

Some might say this will water down the product. But maybe it’s more complicated.

In the past, viewers could distinguish between, say, a show on HBO and one on TNT. Now, not so much. Blame Netflix for this.

Netflix’s popular shows include “Friends” and “The Office” -- both originated on ad-supported TV networks. You can call those shows “ad-friendly content." But at the same time, Netflix also airs edgier original drama and comedies, with non-broadcast language and stronger sexual content.

Some might assume that ad-supported TV shows -- broadcast or cable -- are not HBO caliber. The cabler typically garners hundreds of Emmy awards every year.

Going forward, this may not be an issue, either for consumers, TV producers, or TV business executives. Producing as many “premium” TV shows as possible is the goal. The marketplace will take care of the rest.

Looking for more bangs -- big, little or otherwise -- with no regard to thrones.

1 comment about "As Premium Content Changes, Lines May Blur Between Broadcast, Cable, Streaming".
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  1. William Graff from beIN Media Group, May 21, 2019 at 3:20 p.m.

    "Any profanity, sexually explicit or other family-oriented programming coming our way..."
    I don't think you meant to include those three qualifiers in the same set, so to speak.

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