Cable Executives Debate Charging Fees for iPad Streaming

By Steve Donohue, for [itvt]

CHICAGO - [itvt] at NCTA – News Corp. CEO Chase Carey said here Tuesday that programmers should charge additional fees for distributing live video to Apple's iPad and other mobile devices, debating the issue with executives from major cable MSOs and other programming companies.

"I think the consumer is willing to pay fair value for a good experience," Carey said during the opening session at The Cable Show convention when asked about debate between programmers and cable MSOs on rights to distribute live programming to the iPad. The panel also featured executives from Comcast, Viacom, Time Warner and Cox Communications.

Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes opposed Carey's position, arguing that consumers shouldn't have to pay additional fees to watch content on new devices. "Put the TV on all of the Internet devices," and don't change the business model," Bewkes said.

While programmers and distributors may be at odds over issues such as live streaming, Bewkes emphasized that the pay TV industry is in a better position than the music industry, which was been hammered by copyright issues and consumers downloading music from file-sharing services. "Let's all cheer up. This is not the music industry. This is the cable industry," Bewkes said.

Comcast Cable president Neil Smit said cable MSOs and programmers have made progress on agreeing to terms for ad-supported video-on-demand. He said Comcast has been able to widen its free VOD library by agreeing to disable the fast-forward function in some shows and by supplying programmers with ratings data for VOD content.

Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman said it is important for Nielsen Media Research to measure mobile viewing, noting that a lack of mobile data has prevented programmers from supplying content to mobile devices. "That's one of the obstacles to getting true TV Everywhere for ad-supported services," Dauman added.

Also worth noting from Tuesday's opening session:

  • Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt and Comcast Cable president Neil Smit said their cable companies haven't seen any evidence of cord cutting.
  • Britt said while the majority of cable customers still want to subscribe to large programming packages, he said he would like to develop smaller packages "for consumers that can't afford it all."
  • Carey said the cable industry needs to come up with a better authentication system for TV Everywhere Web sites. "We're still talking about it," Carey said.
  • Dauman said Viacom has seen success using Twitter and other social networks to drive viewers to programs such as Comedy Central's "Tosh.0."
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