At 6:55 PM -0500 1/26/06, Manfredi, Albert E wrote: >Craig Birkmaier wrote: > >> Maybe this is a "message from above" to our friends at >> Sinclair: Don't worry about trying to compete with the >> broadcast networks, use your bandwidth to compete with >> cable... > >Perhaps, depending what that means to you. > >But was I surprised by this UPN/WB merger? Not really. >Just speaking for myself, the programs I followed on UPN >were the Star Trek series (Voyager and Enterprise) and >non-prime-time offerings like Stargate SG-1 and The >Outer Limits. Star Trek ended. They stopped Stargate SG-1. >Outer Limits seemed spotty, and I haven't seen that >listed lately either. Oh well, UPN. > >As far as I could tell, WB had shows for pre-teens. Your comments here are very revealing. They suggest something that we all know intuitively, but tend to overlook. Apparently you did not include UPN in any channel surfing that you may do. Given your comments over the years about recording shows on one or more VCRs, it is apparent that you do not "surf" the broadcast networks, but rather, you make appointments to watch only the shows you like. You use the VCR to handle the fixed appointment times, so that you can consume your favorite show on YOUR schedule. Program adjacency is largely wasted on people like Bert. Now here is an uncomfortable though... The majority of TV viewers are just like Bert. If a program is really compelling, we may still sit down at the appointed time to watch a show when it airs. Live television programming is the last stronghold of broadcast TV, providing viewers with an incentive to adapt their schedule to the TV. But most TV programming is NOT live. In recent weeks we have seen all kinds of announcements related to making it easier to see network programs. - Cable systems are offering "start over" VOD services allowing viewers to see their favorite shows any time after they have aired. - You can now pay extra to see some shows before they air on the broadcast networks. - And you can pay various services to download episodes of some programs after they have aired. It is getting easier and easier for consumers to become the program director, choosing the specific programs they want to watch, outside of the traditional context of THE NETWORK, the local station, and the appointment book (TV Guide). UPN and WB were able to generate solid audiences for a few programs, but they were not able to hold these audiences for other shows. As a result, they were unable to operate profitably. Local broadcasters face the same dilemma in filling up a DTV multiplex. If they offer more programming choice they MAY be able to attract more viewers, but they may also dilute the audience for their main programming. In the end, they must generate enough additional ad revenue to cover the costs of the extra programming and the increased costs of operations. Providing more access points (appointment times) for popular shows may be a very good strategy for broadcasters, allowing them to accumulate larger audiences over time, but only if they can do this without increasing programming costs. Unfortunatley this is not the way the current commercial broadcast model works. >I don't think it's impossible to compete with the other >broadcasters. Cable and DBS seem capable of it. Cable and DBS are capable of it because of the underlying business model upon which the industry was built. First, operational costs are kept to a minimum - cable head ends are fully automated, including the ability to insert local ads into upwards of 25 "cable networks." And these networks have been built around the concept of providing multiple access points to their programming so that they can accumulate a large audience over time. Even more important, most of these networks have built audience around relatively low budget productions, without the highly paid Hollywood stars; they can make money with relatively small niche audiences of 1-2 million viewers. What is not generally known, is that for MANY broadcast network programs the audience is SMALLER than for these cable networks. Top rated "cable shows"now routinely deliver larger audiences than the bottom half of the broadcast network schedules. It is not uncommon for shows on the big four networks to deliver less than 2 million homes, and when this happens, the network is usually losing money. This is one reason that the broadcast networks have moved to new magazine formats, which can be produced cheaply using resources that already exist for their news operations. But the key word in Bert's statement is one that i jump on every opportunity I get. "I don't think it's impossible to COMPETE" Clearly it is not impossible to compete. What is missing is the WILL to compete, and the biggest reason for this is that cable and DBS subscriber fees are replacing the affiliate compensation that the stations once got for the broadcast networks. Why compete with cable and DBS, when you can get them to collect subscriber fees from your viewers? The solution is simple. Use the spectrum to compete with cable and DBS. But this solution would only benefit consumers; the stations, the networks, and the cable and DBS multichannel services would be forced to revert to an even older business model - relying only on the revenues from advertising to pay for the programming. Why would a cable system pay a broadcaster for their programming, when that broadcaster is offering the same content (both broadcast and cable networks) for free? This scam only works as long as there is no way to get the content that now makes up more than 50% of what people watch, without paying for a multichannel TV service, with its built in subscriber fees. >I know you think more along the lines of Kon's idea. I >find that far more shaky, as a 100 percent proposition, >than competing with interesting programs. What Kon is suggesting is not only inevitable, is is already happening. You don't go to the movie store an buy/rent all of the shows that NBC airs on Tuesday night on a DVD. You buy/rent specific programs that may have been aired on a broadcast network or a premium cable channel. When the technology is in place to provide the program you want on demand, the only issue left is how much does it cost? When the cost is less than what a consumer pays now for a multichannel service and for program rentals and purchases, there will be be REAL marketplace competition. This is bad news, not only for broadcasters, but for the multichannel services as well. Broadcasters would be well advised to tell the networks (both broadcast and non-broadcast) where to stick it. They should re-think the existing local station business model and move to a more flexible (and reliable) transmission infrastructure that delivers bits both to fixed receivers and things that move. And then they should make the content producers pay for the delivery of their bits. If a content producer wants to charge for a program, the system should support this, and the necessary encryption to make it work. But we have been through all of this before. The reason ideas like this are gaining some credibility can be summed up in a word... COMPETITION. Broadcasters would be well served to enable an inevitable future, rather than trying to delay it. >Interesting to think about offering what amounts to VOD >over a broadcast network. Seems possible but not overly >convenient. Convenience is really a question of adaptation to a new business model. It is more convenient (and cheaper) to subscribe to a magazine than to go to the newsstand each week or month and buy it. The important factor in all of this is peer-to-peer promotion. It is difficult to grow your audience if there is no opportunity for viewers to watch an episode after it has been broadcast, until a rerun that may be six month away. On the other hand, if all programming had multiple access points - still a broadcast technology, not VOD - then you could schedule an "appointment" the next time the episode is broadcast. Broadcasters need to adapt to and enable this new business model. IF they do it right, they CAN COMPETE with cable and DBS; in the process they will become an extension of the Internet, providing the big pipes for the last mile...without the pipes (wires). Regards Craig ---------------------------------------------------------------------- You can UNSUBSCRIBE from the OpenDTV list in two ways: - Using the UNSUBSCRIBE command in your user configuration settings at FreeLists.org - By sending a message to: opendtv-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with the word unsubscribe in the subject line.