Is there anything wrong with being the biggest cable networks?

Categories: TV Business

Written By

August 18th, 2009

Not if you're USA, Disney, Nickelodeon, TBS or TNT or Fox News.  But what if you're, uh, ABC, CBS and FOX (and, ok, what the heck, NBC)?

Ultimately, I think the answer is still "no, there's nothing wrong with being the biggest cable networks, even if you're the broadcast networks.

If you feel like doing some summer reading Time's  James Poniewozik has written a blog post pondering the death of TV,  inspired by part two of a whole series dedicated to the death of television (and how to stop it) by The Wrap's  Josef Adalian.

Writes Poniewozik:

But Adalian also includes an intriguing link to a TIME magazine cover story from 1988 that also predicted doom for old-school TV:

Where will the networks be ten years from now? The doomsday scenarios come in varying shapes and sizes. As the network audience dwindles, one of the Big Three may be forced to close down or sharply curtail its operations. Or all may survive, but merely as three players in a new, more fragmented competition among eight or ten networks (both broadcast and cable) of nearly equal size.

[...]

And the next ten years for the broadcast networks? I usually tend to think that dinosaurs die off, but slowly. I can't envision a scenario in which the big networks don't end up essentially big cable channels--in fact, maybe someday one or more will literally become a cable channel--but big cable channels are nothing to sneeze at, and as long as the checks clear, people will still want to make shows for them.

I agree with Mr. Poniewozik.  I can't envision a scenario where it doesn't work out like that.  And I'm always interested to hear how the broadcast networks will ultimately make more money on retransmission fees and get more of your monthly cable bills.

What Poniewozik and others fail to trumpet [at least often enough for my satisfaction] is that the broadcast networks already are the biggest networks on cable, at least in primetime.

The broadcast nets  just haven't figured out how to be paid like they are the biggest cable networks yet, even though they are.

 
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