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Turner CEO: how he’s anti-customers and wants to encourage piracy.

Turner CEO: how he’s anti-customer and wants to encourage piracy

Netflix has been very successful because it is customer friendly. Right from the start they realized that the customer was who they were their to serve, unlike TV Networks and Cable channels who are their to serve their advertisers. It didn’t matter to Netflix if you had a DVD for a night, or kept it all month immediately spoke to customers who hated DVD rental late fees.

They have worked consistently to create a business that customers like. I’ll likely become a customer when we upgrade to the newer Apple TV. On the other hand here’s what Turner Broadcasting Systems chairman/CEO Phil Kent) thinks:

But if you thought Kent was being hard on the studios—Warner Bros. is actually a corporate sibling of Turner’s—that’s nothing compared to what he says the industry is doing to Netflix to effectively block Reed Hastings from getting his hands on premium TV series. The new and old broadcast sitcoms and dramas Turner pays billions for may never even get an opportunity to be on Netflix because Kent implied SVOD rights are being “frozen” in the latest rounds of dealmaking.

This is after putting pressure on the studios to not allow Netfilx to get access to the content. And yet, Netflix is the brightest light the program producers have. It’s the closest business model to what customers want that we currently have and they WANT to pay “Hollywood”.

We have customers who are increasingly demanding “what I want to watch, when I want to watch it, on the device I choose for a reasonable payment”. That’s my demand. So far, only Netflix goes close; at least with the three parameters under their control (when, device, payment). But cable, and networks, want to thwart customers and keep desirable content from Netflix so they can continue to prop up a business that is built on a scarcity that no longer exists (or will no longer exist shortly). There’s only one outcome from that, and it doesn’t involve Turner getting any money and it robs studios of some money they might have made via Netflix. It will encourage unauthorized distribution, which is more a symptom of a market need/demand than a desire to obtain something free.

But Kent is not without some measure of mercy. He did say that Netflix still has a seat at the table, but for the scraps. He talked about a deal between Netflix and Warner Bros. TV Distribution for the FX series “Nip/Tuck,” a program that drew little interest from the TNTs of the world.

Thanks for the scraps Phil, but we’re not willing to settle for it. The scarcity that is a cable channel (access) today won’t exist in the near future and when it doesn’t, the only place Turner might have an outlet would be on Netflix. No, wait it won’t because Turner wants to provide programming on their schedule, and that’s just not enough anymore.



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4 responses to “Turner CEO: how he’s anti-customers and wants to encourage piracy.”

  1. Great article and point. I love the idea of VOD and honestly would make me more of a film / television consumer than I already am. Your article reminds me of a statement a friend of mine made recently. “We got rid of all the cinema / movie channels. They just show the same schedule on all their channels. It’s cheaper just to do Netflix and watch what you want.” I know several people who have hundreds of channels of cable, and am amazed at how difficult it is to find something to watch.

    As far as advertisers, I’m ok with ads, Hulu style. I’d love advertising models to go retro, with fewer, shorter breaks and maybe sponsorships.

    Just my two cents.


    1. I like the idea of sponsorships/branded media/product placement over straight out advertising because the former can be made to integrate with the program whereas regular advertising is always an interruption.

  2. Right now the TV portion of my Fios bill is around eighty bucks a month. What I would love to see is some kind of paid blanket media licensing program for consumers, where instead of paying for cable I could pay a monthly or annual fee and have the right to consume as much or as little media as I want, on my terms, on the device of my choice. So even if I downloaded a movie or TV show from bit torrent, I could provide proof of licensing, on demand, and they would back off, rather than suing.

    It seems to me that whoever figures this out is going to win the game. But the old media companies are too busy, as you said, trying to prop up their old business model, and in the process are incentivizing consumers to steal content. (The stolen content is often of higher quality and more convenient to get, of course.)

    Come out with a $100 per month version of NetFlix that has _everything_ on it, and I mean _everything_, movies, music and TV shows. Let me watch it on my TV, on my laptop, my phone, my iPad.

  3. Dave, count me in as customer 2.