You’ve heard it a thousand times: more and more consumers are watching tv shows and movies via broadband. Some are even cutting the cord entirely, foregoing spendy cable packages in favor of online video alternatives.
Many networks and pay TV players are reluctant to address this trend head on, or are doing so at their own foot-draggingly slow pace. Others are more nimble, determined -- or both.
Take the CW. Cognizant of the shift to streaming media, the network, which targets a younger demographic, has "moved more aggressively than many other networks to put all its shows on the Web, and has pushing advertisers to buy its ads online and on TV in the same packages," the Wall Street Journal reports
. The result is a 14 percent drop in TV viewing year over year and a 100 percent increase for online watching.
To be sure, it's an interesting balance to strike. TV stations pay millions in affiliate fees each year to broadcast the CW, but their exclusive rights extend only for the night the content airs. Unlike Fox, which puts shows online eight days after their initial broadcast, the CW makes its content available the next day, a move that is irking some affiliates. (The CW's latest episodes are available on Hulu, while older seasons can be streamed on Netflix; its mobile apps roll the same number of commercials as traditional TV.) Furthermore, there's a fear that moving content online so quickly disrupts traditional TV revenue models, which rely heavily on consumer cable bills.
"The bigger danger is not allowing the consumer to watch video where they want to," Rick Haskins, the CW's head of marketing and digital programs, told the Wall Street Journal. "There's no point in putting your head in the sand and saying we shouldn't be encouraging the Internet use. That's already happening."
By satisfying viewers' demand for content that is available online sooner, the CW is able to generate advertising revenue from Hulu and its streaming apps while helping deter piracy. Contrast that to Fox, which saw an uptick in illegal downloads
soon after it instituted an eight-day delay posting shows online.
Granted, there has been reluctance on the part of parent company Time Warner to move so quickly. But big online paychecks helped sway executives. The Wall Street Journal says the Netflix-CW deal could be worth $1 billion in the coming decade. Furthermore, they're experimenting with "'moving audiences back and forth' between the Web and TV."
"Maybe this is now beginning to evolve into a different kind of network -- a multiplatform, multiscreen network," Bruce Rosenblum, a CW board member and president of Time Warner's Warner Bros. Television Group, told WSJ.
We couldn’t imagine a better future ourselves.