Affiliates may be losing exclusivity on network programming, but the networks aren't about to lose their grip on it. NBC has locked up Law & Order for an almost unheard-of five more years and has given multiyear commitments to spin-off Special Victims Unit and ER, the last with no guarantee the cast will remain intact. Why the long-term commitments? Delivery mechanisms are multiplying, and competition for content is getting fierce.
Affiliates should be: 1) Glad the network locked up some marquee programs; 2) Forewarned by the recent Pax TV and NBCx announcements that they can no longer expect exclusivity, despite the turnaround on Tom Brokaw; and 3) Forearmed with plans to boost their own exclusive local content.