Monday, June 4

Inking Deals: News Corporation / NBC Universal

While CBS seeems to have slowed under the sheer weight of nuts sent by fans over the cancellation of Jericho, News Corporation and NBC Universal are speeding ahead with the addition of FUEL TV, Oxygen, SPEED, Sundance Channel, and TV Guide as content partners committed to bring programming to Web video consumers. The new deal was announced last Wednesday.

"Each of our new content partners have a reputation for creating premium entertainment experiences designed to fulfill television viewers' more eclectic needs," said George Kliavkoff, chief digital officer, NBC Universal and interim CEO of the joint venture. "We are delighted they have all agreed to contribute their compelling content to our venture, which will help ensure our ability to satisfy the more personalized demands of the growing number of Web video consumers."

Their plans are smart, very smart. FUEL TV and SPEED will distribute both partners' short-form content across the distribution network and host their programming on its destination site. The venture's distribution network currently consists of AOL, MSN, MySpace, Yahoo, Comcast, and CNET. The strategy seems a stark contrast to Joost, which looks great, but has come under increasing criticism that it is the slow road to developing Web television.

According to, Joost has been further slowed by Viacom Inc.'s billion-dollar lawsuit with Google Inc. for "not doing enough to prevent copyright-protected content."

The slowdown was also made apparent a few weeks ago, when the new chief Internet strategist at CBS Corp. quipped to the Wall Street Journal that the network's ambitious Innertube project launched in 2006 should be renamed "" (Ironically, one of Innertube's most watched shows was Jericho and those fans aren't likely to come back until CBS gives the series another shot.)

The lesson to be learned practically flies out of the pages of Laurence Haughton's book, as recently summed at Recruiting Bloggers, "speed is the ultimate customer turn on." Don't obsess about perfection. Good enough is good enough.

Speed seems to be on the side of News Corporation and NBC Universal with their plans to feature thousands of hours of full-length TV programming, clips and movies, representing premium content from close to 20 networks and television and film studios. With the addition of CNET and Comcast, the new venture will include E!, Style, G4, Versus, and Golf Channel. The joint venture, NBCU/News Corp., will have offices in Los Angeles and New York.

We first alluded to some major changes in television back in August 2006. Now, in a little less than a year, the entire entertainment landscape is gearing up for major changes. When you add better content to the new technology due out this year, devices that allow people to watch programming whenever and wherever they want, it seems to me that TV will never be the same.

As NBC Universal's Beth Comstock said in April: “If you have great content … you’re always going to find distribution platforms.“ Of course, that assumes you don't cancel content people want.



Sweet Tea on 6/4/07, 12:45 PM said...

Great article! Thanks!

Rich on 6/4/07, 2:43 PM said...

My pleasure, SaveJericho. I think this joint venture demonstrates a substantial shift in what the future of entertainment might be like on Web.

As it relates to your interests, along with all the "Ranger" demographics/comments on our Sat. post, it presents an indication that the most viable content developers will be those who recognize that meeting the eclectic needs of Web TV consumers means more niche programming with dedicated audiences.

All my best,

Cam on 6/5/07, 8:00 AM said...

How does CBS keep getting it so wrong? They want tech savvy viewers but then discount those watching on-line. They want their on-line service to work but then cancel the very show that most viewers watched through it. They put on another reality clone that gets LESS viewers than when Jericho was being shown.

How do the people making these decisions keep their jobs?

One thing we don't question, is that Jericho must come back. Nuts to CBS and Save Jericho.

Rich on 6/5/07, 8:35 AM said...

Cam, all valid questions that make me wonder if there are two schools of thought developing in digital media.

One says passive viewers are now active consumers and the networks might better meet those personal and niche needs.

The other says passive viewers are passive viewers regardless of the media, and if you don't convince your friends to watch your favorites, then the punishment is the loss of your favorite program.

Wookiee on 6/5/07, 9:19 AM said...

Thank you for the great article and the good word about the effort to save Jericho.

Unknown on 6/5/07, 9:31 AM said...

Another great article! Thanks! I am not sure if CBS is understanding this new media concept.

kestral on 6/5/07, 9:35 AM said...

Thanks again for another great article!

Yet another example of how CBS has failed! CBS started the tech savvy viewer trend with Jericho. They had a chance to be the first in the field...and then they blew it! I'm talking nuclear bomb blew it! With the other networks picking up on the tech savvy viewer base, CBS execs must really be kicking themselves in their bottoms!

Well Jericho fans have helped them with their sorrows! We sent them some peanuts to have with their tear in their beer!

If CBS wants a chance to redeem themselves, BRING BACK JERICHO FOR SEASON TWO!


Anonymous said...

On one hand, CBS "seems" to be doing the right thing. Quincy Smith is leading the charge via CBS Interactive, and blitzing with CBS Audience Network.

On the other hand, CBS seems to be doing the wrong thing. Nina Tassler is gutting the fall slate and bringing in a dubious new lineup.

Caught in the middle is Jericho. The darling of CBS Interactive, but the victim of CBS corporate. CBS is starting to look like "Sybil". They need to commit one way or the other.

Cindy on 6/5/07, 12:09 PM said...

Thank you again for a great article. Les Moonves has asked where all the viewers were during the season of Jericho. I'm wondering Mr. Moonves, CAN YOU HEAR US NOW? Nielsen numbers are no longer the be all end all to determine what is a hit show. I should know, my daughter is a Neilsen family and she watches MTV and Vh1 and hardly ever tunes in to major network TV.

Rich on 6/5/07, 1:01 PM said...

Without question, it seems to me that CBS is at a cross roads in deciding what kind of network it wants to be: fan sensitive like FOX and NBC or ... well, um, I'm not sure what that would make them.

We have some faith in Quincy Smith, but wonder sometimes just how much influence he really has at the network. There seem to be mixed messages from CBS on how far it is willing to embrace new media. Of cource, this could change if there is any merit to the rumors I mentioned last week, and TV Guide mentioned this week.

In the meantime, FOX and NBC are forging ahead with their joint-venture plans. It should be big news to see who will make up the new team.

Susan on 6/5/07, 1:46 PM said...

Once again CBS is talking out of two sides of their mouth. Decisions, decisions...They need to bring back Jericho while they are trying to figure out who they are. Nice article.

Raul on 6/5/07, 7:51 PM said...

Thanks Rich. Great information. I'm happy to learn that News Corporation and NBC Universal are making such moves for Internet viewers. Web (digital) TV is here to stay (and continue to grow/evolve/improve).

At times, it appears to me there's been a disconnect within CBS regarding "traditional" TV viewers and the Internet, Tivo-DVRs, iTunes, etc. In any event, you made a good point about Innertube, Jericho, and viewers.

Thanks for your time and thought-provoking posts.

Best regards,



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