A Pay TV Golden Age

A Pay TV Golden Age
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Everyone likes the cable model so much, even over-the-top wannabes (specifically, Intel) say they want to work within the existing rules for paying programmers and getting paid by subscribers. John Malone made a big affirmative bet on the distribution side recently by agreeing to have his Liberty Media buy about one-third of Charter Communications. That, in turn, set inquiring minds to wondering what M&A magic might happen next.

As for programming real estate, CBS snapped up a 50% stake in the channel formerly known as the TV Guide Network. And the studio Participant Media has outlined how it will reprogram the channels it bought that are currently called Halogen TV and Documentary Channel but, come August, will be called Pivot. (Read more about these moves elsewhere in this issue.)

Evan Shapiro, the former IFC/Sundance Channel honcho overseeing Pivot, went further by saying he wants to innovate and enhance the pay TV model by cutting deals with broadband providers (mainly cable firms and telcos) to sell an online-only version of the channel. Distributors are interested, he says. And he says that while Pivot programming will be a draw, “we believe that the way we are distributing the channel will make it incredibly attractive.”

Seems like any kind of TV distribution is incredibly attractive these days.