The carriage fights with content providers that are becoming
commonplace in the cable industry are unfortunately not going anywhere,
panelists conceded at a CTAM Summit session Monday afternoon.
"It's a model that's not working exactly right, right now,"
Judy Meyka, executive VP of programming at the National Cable Television
Cooperative, said. "There are problems. There's a lot more to come."
DirecTV VP of programming acquisitions Dan Hartman added:
"It's unfortunate, but we spend as much time prepping for the battle as getting
the deal done. That's a bad place to be."
Part of the hang-up is the escalating prices, which
sometimes see cable operators being asked to pay hundreds of millions of dollars
in fees for broadcast channels that were free 10 years ago. That's bound to
drive innovation to circumvent the process, whether through services like Aereo
or mobile DTV, one panelist said.
"For that kind of
money somebody will figure out a dongle that works pretty well and it will
flatten out the negotiations again," Allan Singer, senior VP of programming for
Charter Communications, said. "I understand that things have changed and they
now have a dual revenue stream, but these negotiations are just not working."
Andrew Rosenberg, senior VP of content acquisition for Time
Warner Cable said one silver lining he sees, at least for MVPDs, is that since
disruptions are across the industry, running to a competing distributor is not
a great option for the consumer anymore.
"Everybody's customers are getting trained that this is part
of the landscape," he said. "The programming community is going be a lot more
reluctant to weather disruption if it's not going to have an effect on the
distributor. There is an opportunity for things to settle down."
One reason the discussions are harder these days is the
importance of TV Everywhere to each of the negotiating parties. While TV Everywhere
doesn't mean an equal experience for all networks (for example, news or sports
don't on a time-delay basis, but it's fine for an HBO Go), it is equally
important to everyone now.
"A few years ago it
was a maybe. Now this is important to all of us in different way than it was a
few years ago," Rosenberg said. "I think most programmers now come to the table
assuming that TV Everywhere is part of the deal."
Added Singer: "It's the slowest part of the deal now because
it's all new," because sorting through issues of technology, security and
consumer privacy all take time.