Like other old media players, the broadcast networks are getting deeper and deeper into the new media, including the Internet, cell phones and digital multicasting. Here’s a quick look at what they’re up to.
Ever since ABC cut a deal to offer some of its primetime shows via Apple’s iTunes last fall, all the broadcast networks have become increasingly interested in exploiting the Internet by repurposing primetime programming or by developing video-rich Web sites.
At the same time, the networks are pursuing opportunities on other distribution platforms, notably cell phones and the digital multicast channels of their TV stations.
Here’s a quick look at where the networks stand on the new media. It’s a work in progress. We will update it continually.
ABC: FIRST OUT OF THE GATE
ABC.com—Colorful promotional site featuring sneak peaks, schedules, blogs, newsletters, downloads, games, podcasts, ringtones, wallpapers and show merchandise. Advertiser-supported streams of primetime shows are available on a test basis (see below).
ABCNews.com—Text and video-based news site organized by topic and featuring content from Good Morning America, World News Tonight, 20/20, Primetime, Nightline and This Week.
iTunes—ABC was the first network to cut a deal to sell shows on the popular music platform last fall, kicking off a wave of multiplatform agreements. Single episodes of Lost, Desperate Housewives, Commander in Chief, Alias, Night Stalker and America’s Funniest Home Videos are available for $1.99 each. Complete seasons are also available. ABC says it has sold more than six million downloads since October.
ABC.com—Promotional site offers free, ad-supported episodes of Lost and Desperate Housewives and the entire seasons of Alias and Commander in Chief. ABC says more than 11 million shows were viewed during the first month and that more than 8 million unique users visited the site.
ABC News Now—Millennial-targeted online subscription news service available for $4.94 a month. It features breaking news, un-cut interviews from ABC News shows and original programming on health, money, entertainment and other topics. Think broadband CNN.
ABC News Now Mobile—Linear service identical to ABC News Now online, delivered via application providers Mobitv, GoTV and SmartVideo.
ABC Plus—Mix of local news and public affairs, programmed locally by ABC owned stations.
ABC/AccuWeather—Weather multicast service customized and co-branded by each local station that carries it. Launched by ABC O&Os in Philadelphia (WPVI) and Fresno, Calif. (KFSN), the service will rollout on the remaining eight stations within a year. AccuWeather is a partner in the venture.
Cable—There is talk of a deal to offer ad-supported ABC shows for free on cable VOD platforms, but nothing has been announced yet.
ABC reached an agreement with four affiliates—Belo’s WFAA Dallas; Cox’s WFTV Orlando, Fla.; Hearst-Argyle’s WISN Milwaukee; Young’s WATE Knoxville, Tenn.—under which the affiliates will promote and link to ABC.com’s ad-supported streaming of network shows (see above). The trial is expected to lead to a blanket agreement between ABC and affiliates on repurposing of primetime programming on the Internet similar to the ones Fox and CBS now have in place. The parties are also discussing offering ABC News Now as a digital multicast channel.
Albert Chang, EVP, digital media, Disney-ABC Television Group
Bruce Gersh, SVP, business development, ABC Entertainment
Bernie Gershon, SVP/GM, ABC News Digital Media Group
David Watson, VP, product design and development
Eleo Hensleigh, chief marketing officer and EVP, marketing, brand strategies, Disney-ABC Television Group
CBS: CABLE BYPASS
Inntertube—Ad-supported entertainment broadband site featuring original content like celebrity-narrated Animate This and segments and extras from the current lineups and libraries of CBS, CBS Paramount Television, King World and Showtime.
CBS.com—Largely promotional site featuring schedules, sneak peaks and streaming video news clips from CBS Sportsline.com, CBS News and the new entertainment news site Showbuzz.
CBS Sportsline.com—Well-established sports news site that covers all major national sports and fantasy sports. It’s slowly adding more video. It had great success in March streaming the NCAA basketball tournament games to four million users.
CBS News.com—Video-centric news site featuring breaking national and international news and separate feature pages with segments from The Early Show, CBS Evening News, 48 Hours, 60 Minutes, CBS Sunday Morning and Face the Nation.
Showbuzz—Entertainment news site combining originally produced content and footage repurposed from CBSNews.com, CBS.com, The Early Show and 60 Minutes.
iTunes—Single episodes of CSI, CSI: Miami, CSI: NY, NCIS and Numbers are for sale for $1.99 each. An entire season of Survivor goes $19.99. Audio podcasts from 60 Minutes, Guiding Light and As The World Turns are free. CBS Sports offered a single NCAA tourney game for $1.99 or a “season pass” to all 63 games for $19.99.
Yahoo!—Two packages of video news footage from 60 Minutes, including exclusive footage. CBS has also offered full episodes of Two and Half Men and How I Met Your Mother since last January on an ad-supported basis.
Google Video—Single episodes of the latest seasons of CSI, NCIS and Survivor Panama as well as episodes of classic shows like The Brady Bunch and The Twilight Zone are available for $1.99 each.
Mobile Partnerships—Verizon’s V CAST service streams 40-second long mobisodes of The Courier and previews of the CSI franchises, The Amazing Race, King of Queens and other shows. Video news segments from CBS News and Paramount TV’s Entertainment Tonight are also featured. Amp’d mobile features clips and extras from CSI: NY, Numbers and The Late Show.
CBS2—The CBS TV O&Os are planning to launch a multicast channel this fall that features news, weather, local programming and supplementary entertainment programming—the equivalent of extra features on DVDs—for some of CBS’s top primetime shows.
Cable—CBS primetime shows CSI, NCIS, Survivor and Amazing Race are available to Comcast customers for 99 cents each the day after they air in the markets served by CBS TV stations, including seven of the top 10 markets.
CBS and its affiliate board struck a deal that allows both parties to benefit from new media opportunities. Under the agreement, CBS will have increased flexibility to make programs available on emerging platforms such as digital streaming on the Internet. At the same time, CBS affiliates will have the ability to promote the digital offerings on-air and receive a share in the proceeds, including video on demand and subscription VOD offerings. Affiliates will also receive a bounty for any traffic/Internet users they deliver to CBS.com and other CBS-owned Internet properties that result in participation/viewing of ad-supported content. The deal also extends the parties’ NFL cost-sharing agreement for three more seasons.
Larry Kramer, president, CBS Digital Media
Jonathan Sobel, SVP, strategy and business development, CBS Digital Media
Cyriac Roeding, VP, wireless, CBS Digital Media
FOX: BROADBAND IS MY SPACE
My Space.com—News Corp. acquired this wildly popular social networking site in July 2005 for $580 million, now the second most trafficked destination next to Yahoo, according to comScore Networks.
Fox.com—Promotional site featuring separate informational pages for each Fox show, including games, video clips, message boards and companion programming like interview series 24 Inside.
4kids.tv—The site is used to promote the four-hour block of children’s programming airing on Saturday mornings on Fox.
iTunes—Series like 24, Prison Break and Unanimous are available a la carte or on a full-season basis. Canceled show Stacked and oldies like Firefly and Lost in Space can also be found for $1.99 per episode.
CinemaNow—CinemaNow subscribers can download episodes of shows like 24 for $1.99 per episode. The broadcast network shows are offered alongside Fox movies and programs from FX and Speed Channel.
My Space.com—Fox has announced it will be selling episodes of shows like 24 directly on the popular community site for $1.99 each, the same price as on iTunes and Cinema Now.
Fox Mobile Entertainment—The unit develops original content and marketing opportunities based on Fox properties, interactive components like text message voting for American Idol and original mobisodes based on shows like 24.
Mobizzo—A mobile content shopping destination available on Cingular and T-Mobile phones. Service also offers downloads of such Fox shows Family Guy and American Dad. Purchases, ranging from $1.99 per download to subscription plans averaging $5.99 per month, are charged directly to monthly mobile bills.
Mobile Partnerships—Verizon’s V CAST service features promos for shows like House.
Satellite—Shows like 24 and Prison Breakare available on demand to DirecTV subscribers for 99 cents each, up to a week after they air on Fox. The network also offers exclusive video through the satellite provider, including behind-the-scenes footage and weekly highlights.
Fox signed a six-year agreement with its 187 affiliated stations in April to share revenues from reruns of its programs on the Web as part of an extension of the contract that shares in the costs of its $713 million-per-season NFL deal. Fox may repurpose six hours of any programming genre per week in the first year of the agreement, 80% of prime time in the second year and 100% during the third year, including on-demand and broadband content. Affiliates are reportedly sharing 12.5% of what Fox reaps in these platforms, minus distribution and union fees, for programs repurposed after they debut on air and 25% for content that is made available before it is broadcast on the Fox network.
Peter Levinsohn, president, digital media, Fox Entertainment Group
Lucy Hood, president, Fox Mobile Entertainment
Mitchell Feinman, SVP, Fox Mobile Entertainment
NBC: PARTNER UP
iVilliage.com—Acquired for $600 million, an online community for women. It offers NBC companion programming, promotional stunts and hour-long original video program iVillage Live about women’s issues.
NBC.com—Promotional site includes webisodes of The Office and Friday Night Lights along withinteractive elements for Law & Order: CI and online comic book Heroes.
Dotcomedy.com—Short-form comedy content from current and library programs, dating back to Leave It To Beaver as well as original podcasts, blogs and other interactive content.
MSNBC.com—A joint venture of Microsoft and NBC, this news sites offers segments from NBC Nightly News, The Today Show, Dateline NBC, Meet the Press and MSNBC. It recently launched an ad-supported mobile component now in beta testing.
NBCOlympics.com—Video-centric site produced by NBC and Internet Broadcasting that set a new standard for event-based web sites attracting as many as 2 million unique visitors a day during the Winter Games from Torin, Italy.
iTunes—A dozen current shows are now for sale on a per-episode or full-season basis. NBC Vintage offerings include Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Dragnet. Latest five Tonight Show monologues sell for $1.99. A variety of NBC News content is also available.
NBCfirstlook.com—The pomotional site will premier at least four full-length, ad-supported episodes of new series for free before they premier on air in the fall. Previews of most new shows are now streaming on NBC.com.
NBC Mobile—Produces over 20 short-form video programs daily, including late-night clips, breaking news, original mobile exclusives. Interactive SMS applications are prominent in shows like Deal or No Deal.
Mobile partnerships—Verizon’s V CAST service features NBC News segments and Tonight Show monologues. MobiTV offers NBC mobile channel featuring updates from NBC News. SmartVideo is also a partner.
NBC Weather Plus—A24/7 digital weather channel jointly owned and operated by NBC Universal and its broadcast affiliates, balancing national and local coverage. It features an “L-bar” graphic on the screen providing local current conditions and forecasts. A companion Web site debutted in January.
Cable—Law & Order: SVU, Law & Order: CI, The Office, Las Vegas and news segments from NBC Nightly News and Meet the Press are available for 99 cents each on Comcast and Time Warner Cable. NBC is also participating in TWC’s Start Over service.
Satellite—DirecTV subscribers can watch top NBC shows like Law and Order: SVU and The Office commercial free the day after they air on the broadcast network for 99 cents each. The programs are downloaded to the DirecTV plus DVR and unlocked upon payment.
NBC and its affiliates formed a joint venture to create and launch the NBC Weather Plus multicasting channel. Using that same model, they form another joint venture, The National Broadband Co. (NBBC), earlier this year to exploit the Internet. NBBC will aggregate video from the network and its local affiliates. It will sell behind-the-scenes video clips from NBC shows, local news stories and content from local stations and other libraries. Affiliates also participate in NBC Olympics.com, its biennial Web offering.
Beth Comstock, president, digital media and market development, NBC Universal
Jeff Gaspin, president, NBCU Cable Entertainment, Digital Content and Cross Network Strategy
Peter Naylor, head of digital media sales
Mark Lukasiewicz, VP, digital media, NBC News
Jon Dakss, director, iTV product development
Greg Plestis, SVP, alternative programming and development