NBCU: Hold On - Streaming Not Replacing Linear? Not Yet

So streaming is not taking over the world right now?

This would be opposite of what streaming analyst promoters have been saying for some time: Dreaming about the day linear TV disappears altogether and streaming becomes TV's king.

Well, don't hold your breath. That's not what Chief Executive Officer of NBCUniversal Jeff Shell has been thinking. He said during Comcast Corp.'s earnings phone call: “We don't view Peacock really as a separate, distinct business. We think it's an extension of our existing TV business, and we manage it that way."

Is the key word here "existing"? Was Shell talking about permanency?

He takes the position -- perhaps a minority one -- that Peacock as a streaming service should be seen as an adjunct to still-successful broadcast and cable programming businesses. The word "replacement" was not uttered.

At the same time, we can see why a legacy TV company executive would publicly tout this line.

TV companies continue to get a dominant majority share of revenue from linear TV networks and TV stations -- perhaps 80% to 90% or more in many cases.

Even Nielsen data shows streaming has at best 30% of weekly viewing -- a number that has not changed dramatically over the last year. That means the other 70% is going elsewhere -- broadcast and cable.

So legacy TV-based media companies are treading lightly going forward -- especially when it comes to current and near-term negotiations with their TV distributors -- cable, telco, satellite, virtual, as well as newfangled streaming distributors.

Carriage and distribution deals need to be maintained for many years to come.

In addition, legacy TV advertisers need to be cared for -- even as they slowly transition TV-video budgets to streaming and other digital platforms.

Think about all those very efficient and low-priced, base advertising CPM linear TV rates that long-time TV marketers counted on for decades -- especially all those consumer products companies like Procter & Gamble and Unilever.

They are not ready to give up those cheap media costs, even as they pursue -- and shift dollars to -- other media channels to maintain their consumer reach numbers.

The unsettling position is this: As streaming grows in importance, we can't abandon linear TV.

And to take an even more contrarian line, don't read much into the latest headlines concerning "softness" that has been seen with the likes of big streaming enabling platforms such as Netflix and Roku. Some business headlines that are much too dramatic are now saying "streaming is dead."

One needs to work both sides of this media-TV equation for years to come.

Stick to the basics: Just name your price.

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