News Articles

Life on the shelf

4/23/2000 08:00:00 PM Eastern

NBC put an exclamation point on the changing network affiliate relationship last week with the news that it was going to start time shifting the network news and local NBC affiliate newscasts by only a smidgeon on Paxson stations. It will also deliver Olympic trials coverage, some of it live, to Pax. NBC will then be only one of the four venues for Olympic coverage (MSNBC and CNBC will carry Olympics as well). And taking a cue from syndication, it will cume the ratings of the double runs and sell that buy to advertisers.

The head of the NBC affiliate board called the time-shifting move another in a series of kamikaze efforts, but we're afraid the plane has only taken off. The networks aren't making money. Stations are. The networks have spent billions on sports rights and other entertainment products. They look to other outlets to amortize the cost of that programming, expand the brand and cross promote. It's been going on for awhile and will probably accelerate. What was once anathema (NBC broadcast talent on cable networks, for instance) is now standard operating procedure.

Affiliates must embrace the multichannel universe and its realities, which include a loss of exclusivity, said one analyst last week. "In a fragmented, fiercely competitive media world," he said, "it's all about shelf space."

We're not sure they have to embrace it, but they will have to find a way to live in it.


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