CNN: Pay Cable, Pay Online

from the a-la-carte's-only-good-when-they-have-the-salisbury-steak dept

CNN made the headlines itself back in May when it said it would make all the videos on its site free, supported by ads. So there was a little confusion today when the network announced a paid online video service (covered in a wonderfully self-serving story on its own site), promising “live video streams”. The likely, and understandable, interpretation to that is that CNN is finally offering live feeds of its networks online — but that’s far from the truth. The service offers four “pipes” of live video. A brief glance this afternoon had one pipe showing entertainment news, another with an unmoderated feed of a press conference on the upcoming World Baseball Classic, and the other two were entralling live shots of the White House and some group of trees in Roanoke, Virginia, where it’s snowing. To be fair, the service also offers access to CNN’s video archives, as well as all the clips available for free on the site without commercials, but it’s doubtful that will cause much interest.

CNN’s offering comes at an interesting time, given the debate over a la carte cable pricing. Most cable companies oppose it, as do cable networks — they go from a situation where they’re guaranteed lower payments across a high number of users to a situation where they’re not guaranteed anything, and users won’t even have a chance to stumble upon their channel. Advertising revenues will take a hit as well, because it’s almost exclusively a subtractive move — most networks only stand to lose viewers. So should a la carte move forward, there are likely to be more services like CNN’s, and more featuring the actual TV broadcast content. It’s sort of a curious position — the networks are totally opposed to the idea of a la carte pricing, but would love to sell individual subscriptions to people to watch their content online.

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Comments on “CNN: Pay Cable, Pay Online”

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Non-anonymous Coward says:

Tried it. Doesn't work. No support.

The subject line just about says it all. I signed up for CNN’s new live service, but cannot get it to work no matter how hard I tried. Two days of the 14-day trial period have passed since I asked for technical support assistance. I received one automated reply and another that clearly indicated my support request had not been read by the person(?) responding.

The bottom line: So far, it’s a rip-off. Caveat emptor.

Vele (user link) says:

beating the wrong drum

I think you guys are beating the wrong drum here. Most people can reasonably handle a few choices, and are inevitable lazy. I think a combo of a la carte programming and a menu will give many cable channels a boost, but will also reshuffle the same money around. Some picky people will stick to 10-15 top channels, while others inevitably will go to a more streamlined menu (read bundle). You may really watch 10 channels, but you want an additional 10 available just in case s**t happens. So, I do think there’s a model for the industry to try on their move to truly IPTV.

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