Network TV is Dead; Warner’s Going Hulu

10 Comments

Warner Bros. TV President Bruce Rosenblum last week both forecasted the demise of network television and said that a distribution deal between his studio and Hulu was “imminent,” according to Communications Daily.

Rosenblum’s perspective is self-serving, as his studio sells prime-time shows to other networks and co-runs the niche CW network. But he sounded almost like a true new media believer, telling Stanford law students that a “complete disaggregation of the networks” was in the works.
Compared with renting shows through Netflix or selling DVDs, ad-supported or paid online video is the best deal for both studios and customers, he said.

Rosenblum sees a future in which studios spend heavily on marketing to bring consumers directly to their doors (or Hulu’s door, as the case may be). Of course in his vision, established show producers will continue to beat out “new competition from anyone with a ‘video camera and the ability to type ‘YouTube.'”

Although his frank comments are much appreciated, I think there’s at least one part of his vision that’s still too old school. Yes, existing networks will become increasingly irrelevant, but meanwhile new platforms — such as MySpace and Hulu — will emerge. Social networks are coming into their own as a more direct, personal and efficient way to distribute content. These new networks will share more than a common term with the networks of the soon-to-be past.

For background, Hulu told us on February 13 it had not yet signed a deal with Time Warner. Meanwhile, Warner Bros. has been pushing forward with making web shows on the cheap through its Studio 2.0 project.

10 Comments

Gordon Mattey

“[Warner’s] Rosenblum sees a future in which studios spend heavily on marketing to bring consumers directly to their doors”

I’m sorry, don’t they do that already? That’s the way TV works today. The cost of marketing is always the largest ticket item in any film/show budget. It is a market that due to spectrum scarcity and the 24hr clock, can be dominated by spending money on marketing to influence demand at specific times of the day and create a blockbuster.

The game is different now. There aren’t 5 major studios any more, there are millions of individuals not to mention all the new independents created through the WGA strike. Long-term, can Warner Bros (or anyone acting like a studio) spend enough on marketing? Can they create enough blockbusters? Can they live with the losses?

On the internet, the playing field is level. Zero cost distribution rewards good quality content. Warner should invest in production.

The irony is that Rosenblum isn’t forecasting the end of network TV, he is forecasting the end of Warner Bros!

Liz Gannes

Drew, by efficient I wasn’t referring to the pipes, I was referring to the fact that a social network is good place for content to meet people in their natural environment.

Vergel E

Add to that thought most popular Mediacaster / Podcaster content creators are already sidestepping the mainstream distro system and finding their audience.

Even though there isn’t a single payment model, sites like Vuze and Paypal are creating alternatives for a payment solution.

Drew

I’m not sure what you mean by this: Social networks are coming into their own as a more direct, personal and efficient way to distribute content.

Are you implying that social networks will 1) encourage PPV models or 2) target advertising messages much better? I mean BitTorrent is already pretty darn efficient for “delivering” media. It just not very efficient in paying for it.

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