So Netflix is paying $1 billion to Epix for the rights to stream titles from Paramount Pictures, Lions Gate and MGM. This could have been a big deal, but it preserves the cable networks’ 18 month exclusivity window. At the end of the day the Roku box remains a gateway to sometimes good, but somewhat stale Hollywood fare.
HBO and friends live on for a few more years as they evolve their businesses. Cable companies can continue to force customers into bundles that lump four or five “movie” channels showing pretty much the same stuff. Do cable companies see their reign coming to an end, and are just cash cowing their existing business models? It’s clear the “movie” channels are weaning themselves from studio fare. They continue to expand their original programming efforts — and doing it quite well. But what about the cable companies? Beyond caller ID on my TV for the phone line no one in my family uses, we’re not seeing a lot of innovation from Comcast, Charter, and company.
A more disruptive deal from Netflix would have forced big cable’s hand. We’ll just have to wait until the next round of studio deals with distributors to expire.
Earlier this week I wrote at PVC of my belief that 2009 can be a big year for independent video producers. Two things have to happen for my dream to come true.
- The transition to DTV has to be completed on time, and the auction of the 700 MHz bandwidth has to be open to newcomers like Apple and Google – WiFi everywhere, WiFi for all!
- Net neutrality has to be maintained. Small video producers need equal access to the network.
The post coincided with the FCC hearing at Harvard Law School. Briefly stated, Comcast was being accused of limiting the bandwidth available to BitTorrent users on its broadband network. I’m all for net neutrality, but rising to the defense of weasels pirating content via BitTorrent makes me uneasy. Yet, for the greater good that’s where I came down. Comcast has no right to determine whose bits get moved along faster. Nobody signed up for that.
Now here’s what I don’t get. If Comcast wanted to get the BitTorrent weasels off its network, why not just start charging for uploads. Every plan comes with a couple of hundred megabytes upload allowance. Go over that allowance, and you get whacked. P2P networks like BitTorrent require users to make content on their machines available to others on the network. Once that starts costing money, people will begin opting out.
Instead Comcast ticked off the Republican chairman of the FCC. Considering the FCC has been big media’s rubber stamp since the Reagan era, that’s just Comcastic!
Some good background: