The presidents of six cable network owners shared a panel at the Cable Show in Washington Wednesday and split 3-3 on whether streaming full-length episodes of their original series for free online is a good idea. Rich Battista of Fox Cable Networks Group, Bonnie Hammer of NBC Universal Cable Entertainment and Van Toffler of MTV Networks came out in favor. Josh Sapan of Rainbow Media, Steve Koonin of Turner and Scripps Networks president John Lansing were all opposed.
One likely reason for the split: Fox and NBC-Uni jointly own Hulu, the site from which most full-length TV episodes are streamed, while MTV’s parent company, Viacom, is in litigation against Hulu’s main rival, YouTube. Turner, Scripps and Rainbow Media, on the other hand, are mostly programmers, with little in the way of platform strategies.
Another reason: Fox and NBC-Uni cable networks share a corporate roof with broadcast networks, which have been far more generous than cable nets in making their programming available online. Scripps, Turner and Rainbow are cable-only.
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