Time Warner Plays Hardball with Web TV Initiatives

Why the broader entertainment industry cannot learn from the steaming hunk of rubble that is the music industry I do not understand. The music industry was the first to be effected by the new digital era and they fought, kicked, and screamed about it. They even attacked their own customers. For their trouble, they destroyed their industry as it was dragged into the future anyway. Even now, they drag their feet and make things difficult for companies launching new streaming music ventures like Apple and Google.

Now pulling up into the disintermediation station is the television and movie industry. At issue are the complex and lucrative deals in place between production companies and distributors like cable companies. Blowing a large hole into all this is the web and the advent of streaming video channels. Customers just want what they want when and where they want it. More and more, they want it on Internet connected devices. There are lots of nice technological solutions for web video including Apple TV, Netflix and Roku, but the bugaboo has been making deals with content providers. If that wasn’t bad enough, now cable companies, at great risk in this new environment, are throwing a whole new monkey wrench into the works by providing incentives to media creators if they withhold content from web video outlets. Time Warner is leading the charge but other cable companies are on board.

Here is a salient quote from Charter Communications CFO Chris Winfrey

“It’s in everybody’s mutual interest that we are protecting the ecosystem in a way that continues to keep the value of that programming that we have and the way it’s delivered to our subscribers today,”

It’s in everybody’s interest, except the consumer of course. The main trust here is to protect the existing business model. Not to innovate or find a better way but to protect and defend. This is exactly the stance the music industry took and they failed. Newspapers haven’t found a better way and they’re even closer to death’s door. It saddens me a little to read this kind of statement. History is doomed to repeat itself.

The future is already rolling on and rolling over the traditional tv industry as new distributors like Netflix and Amazon are creating their own content and making up their own rules. It’s still early days and we have a long way to go, but so many people hate their cable company and the first reasonable chance they get to kick them out, they will. This is digital Darwinism at it’s best. Adapt or die, that’s where we’re at.

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