Powered by TMCnet
| More

Cable Technology Feature Article

October 25, 2010

Fewer Free TV Shows to be Seen on Web Due to Cable Dispute

By Ed Silverstein, TMCnet Contributor

There will likely be fewer free TV shows on the Web after broadcasters blocked access to their programming this month to enforce demands that they get paid, according to the AP.

The AP reported that Fox, ABC, NBC and CBS are holding back some programming from online viewers in two separate fee disputes after a few years of experimenting with free, ad-supported viewing.

Broadcasters will likely make fewer of their shows available or delay when they become available online.

The AP said this would result in fewer viewers dropping their cable TV subscriptions and watching the shows online instead.

If the cable and satellite TV providers can hang on to more subscribers, broadcasters can demand more money from them to carry their stations, according to the AP.

For example, last weekend, Fox blocked online access to its shows, including "Glee" to 2.6 million Cablevision broadband Internet subscribers, as part of a dispute over how much Cablevision pays to carry the signals of Fox-owned TV stations.

ABC, NBC and CBS turned off access to full episodes when accessed from the new Google (News - Alert) TV Web browser.

The AP explained that both actions show that broadcasters are demanding to be paid for their shows wherever they are seen — as new devices are making it easier to watch those shows on regular TVs.

"Consumers must be made to realize that nothing is free anymore,” said BTIG Research analyst Rich Greenfield.

The AP reported that some relevant recent events include:

Fox abandoned its Internet blockade after about 12 hours, following protests from several lawmakers, including U.S. Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass.

Fox TV stations have remained off of Cablevision lineups since Oct. 16, as the two companies are in a dispute. Cablevision has about 3.1 million TV subscribers in the New York metropolitan area.

Google said it could not force broadcasters to make content available. "It is ultimately the content owner's choice to restrict users from accessing their content on the platform," Google said in a statement.

The free Hulu (News - Alert) online video site is already blocked from mobile phones.

Ed Silverstein is a TMCnet contributor. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf