TV network presidents see no threat from Apple video iTunes+iPod

“In the wake of Apple Computer Inc.’s unveiling of its new video iPod, the presidents of the six broadcast networks said Wednesday that they welcome such new technology and do not perceive it as a threat to their business. ‘It is a 2.5-inch screen and while it’s an amazing device, it’s not something you’re going to sit around with the whole family and watch,’ said ABC Entertainment President Stephen McPherson, whose network’s shows including ‘Desperate Housewives’ and ‘Lost’ are the first to be offered as part the video iPod’s pay-per-download feature,” Greg Hernandez reports for LA Daily News.

“McPherson and the other presidents addressed new technology and a host of other topics at The Hollywood Radio and Television Society’s Newsmakers Luncheon at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel,” Hernandez reports. “The executives acknowledged that new forms of technology are rapidly changing the entertainment industry but said creative content providers have to focus on good product and let the various new distribution channels slug it out for themselves.”

Full article here.

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The word myopic doesn’t begin to describe the vast majority of TV executives. In the full article, they seem more concerned with the death of Saturday night programming. They don’t seem to realize that Saturday night is just the first time period to die. Or they do and they’re not saying. iPods can already hook up to larger screens. What if Apple convinces some producers to allow them to ramp up the H.264 encoding quality (H.264 can do up to Full High Definition) and offers a wide range of commercial-free TV shows? What if Apple launches a subscription service for video content, so viewers can watch whatever they want for a set monthly price like they do with cable/satellite TV now? What about when Apple’s 802.11n Airport Video Express appears, allowing video to be sent wirelessly to any screen in users’ homes? As broadband gets faster and high quality encoding appears via Apple’s iTunes Store, why watch TV? For live events, sure, we’ll watch TV – until those events are streamed live via QuickTime from iTunes, too.

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PC Magazine review gives Apple’s new video-capable iPod 5 out of 5 stars – October 21, 2005
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  1. “The executives acknowledged that new forms of technology are rapidly changing the entertainment industry but said creative content providers have to focus on good product and let the various new distribution channels slug it out for themselves.”

    So are they in the content production or the distribution channel business?

  2. Please let them feel there is no threat. That way we are likely to get “day after” content from all the networks.

    Here’s one reason they aren’t threatened. Right now, TV networks charge advertisers something on the order of $30 for each 1000 desirable viewers (Adults, age 18-49). Figure that there are about 24 thirty-second spots in each hour of network programming, that’s $0.72 per viewer ($.03 x 24) who sticks around for the whole program.

    Do the math! Collecting the better part of $1.99 per viewer is a much more profitable model for the networks. Why sell wholesale when you can make more retail on iTunes.

  3. “The word myopic doesn’t begin to describe the vast majority of TV executives.”

    True, of course, but that could be a good thing. Remember the outset of iTMS. The record labels didn’t think it was that big a deal, so they signed on to make content available on Apple’s terms, figuring it would fail. Now, Apple is in the driver’s seat.

    If the TV execs are truly of a mind that this is no big deal, they may be more inclined to offer up content, perceiving it as a low-risk endeavor.

    As with the record cos., the longer the video content providers don’t see Apple as a threat, the better it is for Apple.

  4. Good point, 1984.

    What happens, though, when production companies go right to iTunes to sell their shows, rather than go through the network middleman? I might be way wrong in this, but it seems like the role the networks play is much the same as the record companies are to music. The only difference is that there is no Apple TV network like Apple records. What’s to keep Apple (Computers) from allowing productions to go right to iTunes and bypass network TV completely?

    I’m not saying this is bad, but if anyone SHOULD be worried (at least in my scenario) it’s the networks.

    On the other hand, I find it really hard to believe that network TV as we know it will ever completely go away. I really believe that you will ALWAYS be able to go to a store to buy a hard copy of books and music. It also seems like there will ALWAYS be some kind of hard-wired phone service. Radio is still around after over 50 years of TV. And TV is still around after 30 years of the home video market. Who knows?

  5. Cable TV is currently much like current music CDs – a few good shows plus lots of rubbish. No…, its much worse that CDs since most of the ‘filler’ on CDs are bearable.

    When my 3 kids are able to watch their ‘build-to-order cable’ shows using video podcasting, just like they listen to their ‘build-to-order radio’ via playlists and podcasts they will get even more selective than I am.

    These TV producers had better start producing quality content or watch their audience drop like a feather in a vacuum.

  6. The iPod will take a chunk out of the syndication market but not new shows. Unitl they ramp up the quality of the video to at least 640 x 480 the video offered at the moment more a treat for first adopters not the main public. TV is moving towards HD – How many episodes of HD quality video could fit on a 60 GB iPod?

  7. MDN Says “What if Apple convinces some producers to allow them to ramp up the H.264 encoding quality (H.264 can do up to Full High Definition) and offers a wide range of commercial-free TV shows? “

    MDN, you got it wrong. It is not the producers who are not allowing Apple to encode with higher quality, it is the iPod which is not capable of handling anthing larger than 320×240. Larger files are too processor and battery intensive for the iPod.

    320×240 is Apple’s decision, not the TV execs.

  8. The only problem with the MacDaily take is it will be impractical to offer full HD content. A full 2hour movie would take 20 plus gigabyte of storage, not to mention the download time. A 80 gig iPod would only hold 3 movies (assuming some of the space is used for music). Once tv goes full digital and hd content becomes more abundant, I don’t think the iPod will be a major challenge to broadcast tv.


  9. Get real MDN. The TV networks are responsible for more content than anyone else. Period.

    There will always be free (commercial laden) TV. Technologies like the iPod and iTMS are nothing more than a new distribution channel for the TV networks.

    The TV networks have nothing to fear from the iPod because commercial TV will be needed to popularize the programming that people buy from iTMS.

    That’s the beauty of the arrangement between Disney and Apple. iTMS won’t cannibalize sales from broadcast TV. It will generate revenue from those that wish to own a segment immediately, or couldn’t watch it at the prescribed time. Currently, this is an unsatisfied market. This deal makes the pie BIGGER.

    If anything, those that will be impacted will be some of the cable channels. Even then, the impact will be minimal unless, and until, Apple is able to bring content to the public faster, or from a greatly expanded (archived programming?) library.

    I think the TV execs are right on with their perception of iPod/iTMS, and this is good. As long as they don’t feel threatened, the deals with Apple will flow.

  10. Not sure how you can talk about how broadcast quality is changing to HD anf then say an iPod can’t handle the data. If TV changes won’t the iPod also be changing? Can’t have onside of an argument stay static if other side is dynamic

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