Stations Need to Stream Their Signals NOW, Says Former Top TV Exec

Aug 4, 2011  •  Post A Comment

A former top television executive is urging stations to get on board immediately with online streaming of their live signals as well as past programming, TVNewsCheck reports.

Preston Padden, who was a top executive with Fox, ABC, Disney and Metromedia and is now an adjunct professor of law at the University of Colorado and a senior fellow at the university’s Silicon Flatirons Center, warns in a piece for the website that stations that fail to recognize the importance of streaming “could miss out on the future of television.”

Padden writes: “The broadcast networks have jumped on the streaming bandwagon with their own ‘.com’ sites and through deals with Hulu, Netflix, Amazon and others. That is great, but what about their traditional station partners? Some networks, like ABC, allow local stations to sell some of the ads in network streams to viewers in the station’s local market. And some stations stream their local news. Unfortunately, these laudable, but fragmented, streaming initiatives are not the same as streaming the station’s entire signal.”

The question, says Padden, is how to develop a workable business model, including dealing with the sticky issue of rights.

Padden says in the piece: “Stations should develop credible streaming business models and then engage in good-faith negotiations with their program suppliers, including the networks, to secure the necessary rights. Geo-location technology, like Syncbak, is available to appropriately limit a local station’s streams to its DMA. But stations first need to negotiate for the rights. And, the sooner the better.”

Networks, Padden adds, have something to gain from having their affiliates participate fully in the digital world, setting up what he calls a “win-win-win” for stations, nets and viewers.

“If I were running a network, I would want my affiliates to participate in the streaming revolution,” he writes. “Stations are the strongest distribution platform in television — by a wide margin. Assuming that stations can develop streaming business models that generate revenue for their networks, it would serve the best interests of the networks to keep this great partnership going into the streaming future.”

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