There’s even a CMT alternative called Great
American Country (GAC), which was a pre-Trump concept. (It probably didn’t hurt GAC to
be associated with that particular New Yorker
during the campaign frenzy.) It’s as if The Nashville Network—once it became TNN and was
acquired by Viacom—dropped all of the syndicated content mentioned earlier and split into
a half-dozen OTA subchannels that all began
broadcasting the same thing.
As part of the rush to understand Middle
America after the unexpected—to bicoastal
elites, at least—election upset in early November, advertisers and ad agencies alike are giving these diginets a second look. An influx of
advertising dollars may put these fledging diginets on track to begin offering higher-quality
content in the same way that CW and WB morphed into original premium content engines a
decade or so ago.
Marc Berman, writing for Campaign, notes
this very thing is occurring. As original programming comes to Bounce TV, which has seen
an uptick in blue-chip advertisers, Berman notes
that an original show called Saints & Sinners had
an impressive opening last March with 1. 3 million viewers.
“Bounce TV, in fact, bested competing BET
among the African American audience in seven of the eight Sunday nights the first season
of Saints & Sinners aired last spring,” wrote
Berman quotes an industry executive who
makes the case for the diginets.
“In many cases the audience deliveries for
these nostalgia diginets are actually outdeliv-
ering many of these networks that have been
around forever,” said Robert Russo of RNR
Media Consulting. “Even on the local end there
seems to be interest.”
Now let’s talk about cost, the final consider-
ation our cord-cutting neophyte might consider
when deciding whether to fully cut the cord and
walk away from any recurring monthly fees.
The initial cost of an HDTV digital antenna is
around $60–$75, and installation takes no more
than 10 minutes, based on my experience with
setting up an HDTV antenna last year.
There’s also a move afoot to drop the overall
cost to zero. A recent “TV Liberation Tour” by
NAB, Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc., and other
supporters of OTA digital broadcasting sought
to put 300 digital antennas in the hands of con-
sumers from Little Rock, Ark., to Asheville, N.C.,
to Baltimore. The intent of the road trip was to
“inform consumers that they can access dozens
of local broadcast TV channels via an advanced
digital antenna in high-definition for free,” ac-
cording to a Broadcast & Cable magazine article.
The question of content cost often comes up
when frugal—not cheap, frugal—cord-cutters
express the uncertainty of trading a large cable
television monthly fee for a series of smaller
fees required to stream live-linear, cable-like
Not that the cord-cutter would even be able
to hand over these multiple small amounts di-
rectly to media conglomerates if she wanted to:
Several cable-only networks have opted to ap-
pease the Charter Communications, Comcasts,
and Time-Warner Cables of the world by block-
ing anyone without a cable subscription from
viewing linear “TV Anywhere” content. Some,
however, are going straight to the consumer.
For example, HBO is letting cord-cutters sub-
scribe to its HBO Now service for a monthly fee,
even if they don’t have cable subscriptions.
HBO tends to be a first-mover when it
comes to media consumption technologies,
and the move from a bundled HBO Go to an
unbundled HBO Now represents a path the
market should follow in terms of unbundling
premium content from the cable television
But the one caveat is that cord-cutters are
not likely to warm to the idea of paying incrementally to every content provider to access
exclusive or original content, especially when
it means they may ultimately face a stack of
bills that cost more than they were paying for
a bundled cable service.
All of this means 2017 will be an interesting
year for prime-time content in search of an
online audience. We will likely end the year
with at least two content aggregators that—a
decade from now, if not before—will look remarkably similar to today’s content aggregation behemoths that we generically call “the
Tim Siglin is a streaming industry veteran and longtime
contributing editor to Streaming Media magazine.
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