Exclusive: DirecTV makes announcement
By Ron Peltier
The financial kerfuffle between Viacom and DirecTV ended last week. The nine-day dispute denied DirecTV’s customers access to Viacom’s programming. The dispute between AMC Networks and Dish has not been resolved; Dish customers are still unable to watch AMC programming.
Satellite TV providers such as DirecTV and Dish pay a fee to companies like Viacom and AMC to distribute their programming. According to reports, the dispute between Viacom and DirecTV centered on Viacom’s proposal to increase its fee to DirecTV by 30%. Providers are sensitive to increases to its customers for obvious reasons. When customers are financially strapped, (the economy is still sputtering along) what is the easy thing to cut back on? What non-essential item can customers or family cut out of their budget—entertainment. And let’s be clear here, paying for cable or satellite subscriptions is getting more and more expensive.
Justifying the expense for many is getting harder. After all, of the 17 shows that Viacom provides, I only watch two regularly and the rest almost never. This begs the obvious question—why should I pay for channels that I don’t want? This is not an absurd question.
The dispute drove many to view their favorite programs online. Despite threats to the contrary, Viacom allowed “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and “The Colbert Report” to be watched online. Watching programs online is becoming more and more popular, as it allows customers to watch what they want, when they want. What a novel concept—watching what one wants, when one wants. I could really get behind this idea.
Already many, if not most, networks support their TV programs by allowing their shows to be viewed online. Furthermore, many websites provide online streaming of many shows already; think Hulu.com.
This leads to another thought: Why don’t networks or channels simply offer their programming directly to customers for a fee? They could do this via online.
That’s precisely where the market is headed, according to Alexander Behrens, COO of Eurochannel. “More and more you see people . . .buy[ing] specific music or movies on the Internet,” he says. The fast emerging technology like smart phones and TVs are creating “a new reality.”
So that’s one reason why his company is going to provide its programming directly to customers starting on August 1st. Eurochannel.com is a premium channel on hundreds of cable systems around the globe and will be offered for $9.99 per month. However, it will include an introductory offer of $7.99. Worldwide, the channel has 11 million viewers.
Customers “love to have . . . the channels they enjoy most,” he says. He does not necessarily see providers going away any time soon, only that offering content directly to customers will be an increasing part of the viewing landscape.
“Our relation with cable and satellite TV providers has always been very good. We are part of that business model, but we also feel that a new way to watch TV has already been added to the traditional way to watch TV.” Indeed, it has.
From one subscriber who enjoys several channels, but not all that I pay for, this is encouraging news. Perhaps the trend will continue. Watch out Netflix