News Corp.’s Fox network has reached an agreement with its nationwide affiliate stations that will allow it to show reruns of its television programs on the Internet. This news follows the recent announcement by ABC that they will be make available TV shows for free (supported by advertising) on the Internet.
What this means is that iTunes is not going to dominant the entire digital media world in the same way they dominant digital music downloads. Here are the reasons why the Apple model (and for that matter the Google Video model) won't work for TV shows:
- Unlike music, which people do want to "own," nobody really wants to own yesterday's episode of ESPN Sportscenter. You'll listen to that favorite song of yours over and over, but how many times do you need to watch an episode of the Apprentice? Think about it.
- Consumers don't want to pay for media on the Internet. Didn't we go through this 10 years ago with micro-content payments were all the rage? Yes, there will be some exceptions, but as a rule folks don't want to replace their $50 cable bill with a $800 Internet video bill.
- Consumers definitely will NOT pay for things they can get someplace else for free. This is a big deal for Internet deliver TV shows. You can watch it for free, TiVO is for later viewing for free, etc. Why pay for it? The average consumer won't. The exception are rabid fans who want to "collect" episodes and folks looking for a one-off convenience (traveling on a plane). This sounds like a niche market to me.
In the end, we'll see Internet TV shows explode in use as the advertising model around it evolves. FOX has made a smart move here, because they found a way to share revenue with their local affiliates. ABC, which didn't reach an affiliate agreement, has definitely pissed off their local stations. Despite some of the drama here, I expect this will continue to shake out over time.