Web-TV Divide Is Back in Focus With NBC Sale
…For 60 years, TV could be watched only one way: through the television set. Now, though, millions watch shows like â€œGreyâ€™s Anatomyâ€ on demand and online on network Web sites like Ms. Sweeneyâ€™s ABC.com and on the Internetâ€™s most popular streaming hub, Hulu.com.
How people watch TV on demand â€” and whether they should pay for the privilege â€” is a critical issue in the landmark deal, announced Thursday, that will give Comcast control of NBC Universal. In the deal, Comcast will become a co-owner of Hulu.
Like all its broadcast rivals, NBC rushed to put its popular shows on the Web years ago, hoping to secure a piece of the booming online advertising market and offset an eroding audience.
The viewers came in droves, but the ad revenues have not materialized as expected. By giving away TV episodes online, â€œthe industry is literally tossing money and premium content away,â€ Barry M. Meyer, the Warner Brothers Entertainment chief executive, said in a speech in October.
Comcast, the countryâ€™s largest cable operator, has already been using its considerable muscle to limit how many shows are available online, lest people think they can cancel their costly cable subscriptions and watch free online. Now the company â€” which, if the NBC deal passes government muster, will own a piece of the biggest site that threatens to undercut its core business â€” is looking for ways to charge for ubiquitous access to shows.
With millions now watching TV on their computers, can the media companies put the Hulu genie back in the bottle?
The scramble by TV companies to preserve its ad model while giving consumers choice â€” what Comcastâ€™s chief executive called in interviews Thursday â€œanytime, anywhere mediaâ€ â€” mirrors the efforts of newspapers, magazines and radio companies to wring more money from digital media. But all are facing some entrenched habits.
â€œIf you disrupt the consumer experience, youâ€™re in trouble,â€ warns Mike Kelley, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Stephen B. Burke, the chief operating officer of Comcast, recently called streaming â€œthe biggest social movement Iâ€™ve ever seen.â€
NY Times: BRIAN STELTER
Does anyone else find this…creepy? There’s something dark and sinister about the way this article is written. Is it accurate?