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 CNN.com 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.