However, getting more involved in programming may not be the way to go. Upside? Yes. But plenty of risk, as well.
For example, the thinking is ESPN shouldn’t charge nearly $9 a month per subscriber to pay TV distributors -- the highest price of any TV network, cable or broadcast -- when it hasn’t aired a live NBA or Major League Baseball game in two months.
ESPN might counter: There is no live sports, but it does run sports programming content -- highlights, many past big NBA and Major League Baseball games, e-sports video games and cornhole throwing.
So does specific language, with regard to the types of programming, appear in carriage contracts with TV content producers? If so, then those pay TV providers indeed have a say.
Now, broaden this beyond sports.
In the coming months, there will be an ever-decreasing number of scripted TV shows on the air -- broadcast and cable. What does this mean for the fall -- the typical launching ground for new TV content on CBS, NBC, Fox, ABC, dozens of cable networks and new streaming services?
If all types of TV networks are not running a specific volume of new programming, what happens to deals with their traditional and virtual TV distributors?
Previous to COVID-19, Dish, DirectTV, Comcast, Charter could count on a certain level of viewership from content -- which can be tracked historically.
TV viewing has gone higher in the last two months. But now it is starting to level off. In a couple of weeks or months, it could sink -- dramatically. So airing content value could be lower, affecting not just pay TV distributors, but consumers who want to pay less.
One might also figure any local cable advertising revenues are taking a hit as well. Traditional pay TV providers, cable, satellite, and telco providers typically get two minutes an hour of ad time to sell.
Do pay TV providers now want more of a say -- in the time of COVID-19 -- in what types of programming they get to sell, perhaps linking content deals to distribution and viewership?
TV content and development is a double-edged sword. Having a shared partnership in TV content performance is a risk.
Which will be the first pay TV provider to step up and want a carriage deal tied specifically to program ratings? Sorry, I can’t hear you.