Media Money with Julia Boorstin

National Cable Show Kicks Off


The annual Cable Show starts this afternoon in Los Angeles and it could not come at a more momentous time for the industry. Over the past few weeks cable broadcasters and carriers  have reported strong results - showing higher subscription fees and higher revenue. They've also shown remarkable international growth, as companies like Discovery expand their TLC brand overseas.

And just in the past week the FCC announced new plans to regulate the internet, applying some of the rules it uses to regulate telecom companies. Just yesterday Bernstein Research analyst Craig Moffett downgraded the cable sector, issuing a report that discusses how the FCC's plans for regulation are sure to weigh on cable companies' stocks for the next two years.

Potential FCC regulation is just one of the hot topics here at NCTA. Content creators and broadcasters have been embroiled in high-stakes, high-profile clashes over the value of content. Cable content creators, demanding higher fees, have pulled programming off the air- using customers as pawns in their negotiations. Here at NCTA the big question is: how much is content worth, and how much can carriers pass along higher prices to customers before they're tempted to cut the cord with their cable carrier to watch video exclusively online?

Scripps CEO on Cable Standoffs

To keep subscribers from cutting the cord cable carriers and broadcasters are increasingly offering premium content - password protected - online. Time Warner has is rolling out HBO GO - its online, on-demand offering - to all the subscribers of its premium service. Comcast and Time Warner Cable are offering "TV Everywhere" products to give subscribers added value from that monthly cable bill. Here at NCTA we're sure to hear more about whether cable cutting is a real threat.

The other hot topic here - 3-D. ESPN has a 3-D channel in the works. Comcast says it had great success with broadcasting the Masters in 3-D. And Discovery Communications is working on the first-ever 24/7 3-D channel. But if only five million people buy 3-D enabled televisions by the end of this year, how big will the 3-D TV market be? Scripps Networks Interactive CEO Ken Lowe commented that everyone in the cable will want to broadcast occasional events in 3-D. (See the interview above.) Among Scripps channels, Travel Channel content best lends itself to 3-D, but those fancy glasses will only really be convenient for events, like sports or movies, and not for regular run-of-the mill TV.

Questions?  Comments?