On the heels of a report that CBS is in talks with Google for video search and on-demand video deals–and others including DirecTV for on-demand video–now comes word that
CBS is also in talks about expanding its deal with Comcast. “We are talking with our affiliates right now,” said a CBS spokesman.
On November 8, CBS and Comcast made a deal that enabled viewers to buy some CBS shows for 99 cents through Comcast’s on-demand service. Those shows include commercials.
CBS’ Chairman Les Moonves said CBS shows would be available only in those Comcast markets where CBS affiliates are owned by CBS Corp., and where Comcast systems existed.
The beautiful irony of broadcast network television is that, unlike pay TV, it needs reach to make its advertising business work. Yet, here we see CBS balancing its affiliate relationships with the opportunity to provide VOD through Comcast systems. What happens to the affiliates when the company goes with Google to search and sell downloads of shows? Does anyone really expect people will pay for gameshows, for example? No, they’ll exist on product placement fees.
The upshot is that a lot of the redundant crap that fills the network and affiliate airwaves will vanish from the scene. Both sides of that distribution equation will be seeking new programming to fill the “Crap Gap,” meaning that, like the 1950s when television was new and programming just invented at the local and national levels independently, a huge opportunity for producers will open up. In the 1950s, every region had a clown who introduced cartoons, something like that will return (though I don’t think this means a new career for J.P. Patches and Brakeman Bill, the Seattle-area renditions of this kind of programming).