Cable programmers emboldened by a dual revenue stream business model are nevertheless facing the wild west of delivery and consumption options where consumers will increasingly drive the agenda.
Having been more circumspect about putting content online, cable programmers that have enjoyed a lifetime of subscription growth are now looking for growth elsewhere.
Where that growth will come from was the focus of the "Behind the Screens: Program Networks & the Incredible Expanding Universe" panel at Cable Show 2010 here Tuesday.
"What you're seeing now is not a flat-line [in subscriber growth], it's just not going to be the growth we've gotten used to," said Bridget Baker, president of NBC Universal Television Networks Distribution.
The strategy at BET has been to make the network the premiere destination for the African American consumer with more relevant programming and enhanced as well as exclusive Web content with an emphasis on social networking.
"The whole point of our brand strategy was to super serve our constituency," said Janet Rolle, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of BET Networks.
But the thorny issue of monetizing streamed content remains.
"At my company [NBC Universal] you get into a discussion about the ecosystem of how content is created and distributed," said Baker, "and free is not part of the discussion. The discussion about the Internet as a growth strategy and not just a brand enhancement is a challenging proposition."
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