Video Streaming Shouldn’t Be Business as Usual

The love/hate relationship between cable operators and programmers goes back for decades. Both sides have always understood that no matter how hot the rhetoric gets, at the end of the day they need each other. That is even truer today than it was a decade ag...

Content Dam Btr En Articles 2011 04 Video Streaming Shouldn T Be Business As Usual Leftcolumn Article Thumbnailimage File

By Carl Weinschenk, Senior Editor

The love/hate relationship between cable operators and programmers goes back for decades. Both sides have always understood that no matter how hot the rhetoric gets, at the end of the day they need each other. That is even truer today than it was a decade ago.

Their negotiations, often very publicly played out in the press, obviously are aimed at gaining an advantage at the bargaining table. That’s fine: Hardball tactics are justified in a hardball business.

The usual process seems increasingly problematic, however, as competition and technical options proliferate. The early signs aren’t good that a way around the conflicts will be found in the world of content streaming.

There have been significant rumblings over Time Warner Cable’s iPad app. There also are indications that the same thing will happen as Cablevision – an MSO which, of course, is not at all shy about going at it with programmers – introduces its own iPad app, which is more ambitious than TWC’s.

The bottom line is that programmers and operators should find a way to avoid the typical programmer/operator food fight. I understand that this is a bit naive: There is a lot of history and a lot of money at stake.

Sometimes naive is good, however. The two groups would do themselves tremendous good by working together, cutting the posturing and coming to an equitable arrangement on content streaming. Both sides are facing serious new competitors to their core businesses and can do without the drama.

The bottom line is that playing the traditional game of chicken as if this was 10 years ago is the sort of denial of reality that transforms a challenge into a problem and a small alternative player into a significant competitor.

Carl Weinschenk is a reporter for Broadband Technology Report. Contact him at carl@broadbandtechreport.com.

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