Tuesday, September 25, 2007

US TV networks wake up to distributed distribution

It's been interesting to chart the major US TV networks' evolving approach to online video distribution over the last couple of years. Below is a rough timeline of activity from 'the big four' (ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox) which shows the shift from paid-for iTunes downloads and broadcaster-hosted streaming services in 2005/06 to increasingly distributed models in 2007. This change is also reflected in recent proclamations by some of the networks' big cheeses (pasted below the timeline) who seem to have finally woken up to the fact that the internet is a network and that big audiences in this space come from allowing wide distribution of your content, not forcing users to come to you (although as Jeff Jarvis points out on the excellent BuzzMachine, these noble sentiments don't always translate to actions).

12th Oct 2005 - ABC shows made available for download (for $1.99) via iTunes
5th Dec 2005 - NBC shows made available for download via iTunes
1st May 2006 - ABC launches free (ad-supported) video streaming service
4th May 2006 - CBS launches 'innertube', free (ad-supported) video streaming service
9th May 2006 - Fox shows made available for download via iTunes
8th Jun 2006 - CBS shows made available for download via iTunes
1st Oct 2006 - NBC launches 'NBS Rewind', free (ad-supported) video streaming service
22nd Mar 2007 - NBC and News Corp announce what will later become Hulu.com
18th Apr 2007 - NBC creates the National Broadband Company to distribute video
12 Apr 2007 - CBS announces its 'Interactive Audience Network', distributing shows through numerous partners
18 Jun 2007 - Fox partners with Brightcove to offer streamed, embeddable video
31 Aug 2007 - NBC ends contract with iTunes
4th Sep 2007 - NBC shows to be made available via Amazon Unbox
19 Sep 2007 - NBC launches 'NBC direct', free (ad-supported) download service
20 Sep 2007 - ABC begins free (ad-supported) streaming via AOL
21st Sep 2007 - Fox gives away free seasons premieres via iTunes

“If we really want to compete with big aggregators like Yahoo and Google, we need our video in as many places as possible,” (Randy Falco, president of NBC, quoted in the New York Times, September 2006)

“We can’t expect consumers to come to us. It’s arrogant for any media company to assume that.” (Quincy Smith, president of CBS, quoted in the Wall Street Journal, May 2007)

“It is critical that we embrace the Internet as a distributed medium that promotes engagement with users, wherever they are on the Web” (William Bradford, senior vice president, content strategy at Fox, August 2007)

1 comment:

Dan said...

That's a good collection. And the US networks deserve kudos for actually achieving it too. How long did it take 'us' (speaking as your former BBC colleague) to get the message across and then get plans into action? Whilst having to make up handy catchphrases like 'the web as a canvas' and then draw increasingly convoluted diagrams to boot! You can tell me whether it's still an issue.