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Friday, December 9, 2011

Why no TV streaming?

A long-time friend asked me, "Why can you stream radio stations over the web, but not TV stations? Go figure?" Here are some possibilities.
  • The technology to stream video is expensive, even if it's hosted. Most local stations have been under financial pressure since advertising revenues fell in 2008. There is even more cost in adding a storefront to collect revenue from streaming.

  • Networks can certainly afford to deploy streaming server farms, but the concept of allowing a network to stream its content live is anathema to that network's local affiliates -- who jealously guard their prerogatives as the primary or exclusive distribution channels for the network's content in their respective local markets.

  • Local stations don't want to stream network content if it means that you could turn to 100 different websites for the NBC Nightly News. The affiliates like the status quo, although some of them are streaming the small amounts of content that they originate themselves.

  • The networks own 90% of Hulu; the networks want you to go there for streaming.

  • When a radio or TV station wants to stream content like music and movies, they must pay incrementally for it. Music is cheap to rent for streaming, but movies are expensive.

  • Superstations and non-broadcast networks like ESPN are too tightly bound to cable companies for distribution.
This may not be the entire list of factors, but it's long enough.