Does A Streaming Future For Cable TV News Networks Mean A Loss Of Affiliate, Ad Revs?

There is a 116-year-old French nun who recently got COVID-19. She survived -- three weeks later. Believed to be the world’s second-oldest person, she is looking forward to her 117th birthday.

You can survive anything if you want to, or have great genes, or get great help. Good for her. She keeps going, doing pretty much what she has always done.

When it comes to longtime media companies, one needs a lot more aid. First, the ability to change internal eco-financial systems quickly just to stay afloat. I know what you are thinking -- it’s all about new streaming platforms. But other changes need to be addressed, shifting quickly to advertiser and viewer needs.

Take the Fox News Channel, which may be not all that motivated to make changes -- politically speaking, of course.

“We don’t need to go further right,” says Lachlan Murdoch, executive chairman/CEO of Fox Corp, during an earnings phone call with analysts. We don’t believe America is further right, and we’re obviously not going to pivot left.”



He added: “We’re targeted to the center-right, exactly where we should be targeted, as we’ve been.” Murdoch was alluding to smaller traditional cable TV network outlets -- Newsmax and OAN, for example -- being to the right of Fox. Analysts suspect those networks might be taking some of Fox’s viewer base, though Fox has been shifting hosts and shows. It also promoted election fraud stories for months, much like its right-wing rivals.

Murdoch adds: “We’ll stick where we are, and we think that’s exactly right. And that’s the best thing for the business and for our viewers.” Of course, that last bit is key: best for “business.”

We assume this means all its business interests -- advertising, pay TV providers (traditional, virtual and otherwise) and other partners. Murdoch then said: “We’re down about 13% in ratings,” referring to prime-time viewership for January. “It’s a cycle we expected.”

This is in line with any TV news network in which viewers have a particular political inclination, he says. After the 2016 presidential Donald Trump/Hillary Clinton election, he adds CNN was down 17% and MSNBC 10% lower.

Perhaps, though next time might be different. Add in a growing streaming TV factor, where everyone can choose exactly the TV networks/apps they want, not the 200-300 or so networks that come with your legacy cable, satellite, telco pay TV service.

Right now, most modern pay TV subscribers, some 90 million in the U.S, pay for all TV news networks, whether they watch them or not: CNN, MSNBC, Fox News Channel and perhaps Newsmax and OAN. That is how the legacy pay TV systems work -- and why, in part, there is growing cord-cutting.

Soon, because of streaming, many more Americans will choose to shut out the other side: TV viewers opting not to have the Fox News Channel; right-leading TV viewers eschewing CNN and MSNBC.

And that’s when the business dynamics change.

Billions in longtime crucial affiliate cable TV revenues that support TV networks are already slipping. That leakage may become a steady flow. A changing streaming curve isn’t helping either; advertisers' revenues are fragile.

TV news networks are in a similar boat. They will rush startup more connected TV services, hoping to avoid any possible business-related maladies that may come their way.

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