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Cable Technology Feature Article

May 13, 2013

21st Century Fox, 20th Century Access

By Peter B. Counter, TMCnet Contributing Writer

Publishing and television: two industries that simply can’t seem to keep up with the rise of Internet-provided alternatives. News Corp (News - Alert)., owned by 82 year old mogul Rupert Murdoch, has stake in both areas and is going forward with a King Solomon-like solution: splitting the media empire down the middle with entertainment on one side and publishing on the other.

The reasons supporting the split will come to a surprise to those embracing the freedom of post-cable entertainment. Mediacorp is reporting a 17 percent increase in cable network revenue. RBC Capital Markets analyst David Bank, when speaking in a New York interview about these good looking numbers observes: “The company’s performance highlights how strong the flagship business is, which is the cable channels.”

News Corp is home to everything Fox, and the entertainment side of the split will group all of the Fox media entities under the heading of 21st Century Fox. The one weak point in the otherwise successful entertainment report came in the ratings department of flagship programs like American Idol.

And that’s the kicker isn’t it? Declining ratings reported from Fox Television are being blamed on a divided audience that is increasingly relying on new digital formats. The overall revenue increase, contextualized by the fact that the only failure to achieve is in the area of television would lead one to consider that this is simply a matter of original programming. That is certainly what Fox is thinking, planning to make a bigger splash with an as-of-yet unannounced season of new shows.

Netflix, YouTube (News - Alert), and other competing platforms are drawing audiences with exclusive programming like the new season of Arrested Development, and the popular original House of Cards, but what these competitors have that Fox doesn’t is multi-platform, on demand accessibility.

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For cable providers, television isn’t the end of the road. Eventually they will all just turn into broadband Internet Service Providers. Television channels have a lot more at stake though. Audiences are used to watching what they want, when they want, on whatever they want. Fox can make a great show, we’ve seen it done, but the reason Arrested Development will be embraced on Netflix in a way that it wasn’t on Fox is more about accessibility and less about the quality of programming.

Edited by Rich Steeves

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