The GM woke up from a nightmare. In a cold sweat, all he/she could think about was something from the nightmare, when the network affiliate relations representative said on the phone: “We’ve enjoyed our relationship for the past 50 years, but when our contract expires we won’t be renewing it.”

The conversation continued: “Who will be getting the affiliation in our market? We carry your football games and some of the market’s number one shows. We’ve been loyal to you for decades.”  The network rep responded, “Yep, and we both benefited. Thanks, it’s been fun. This is a business decision. We no longer need affiliates. No one’s getting our shows but us.”

This nightmare could come true sooner than you think.

You were given a peek at the future this week when CBS announced it would be continuing the Star Trek franchise in 2017.  But wait… only the premiere will actually air on CBS.  The rest of the episodes will be available ONLY on the CBS subscription streaming service. Look ma, no affiliates.

CBS is creating entertainment programing that they will not put on TV. And they’re not selling it to Amazon or Netflix. They’re expanding their OTT platform – a platform like HBO and Showtime that uses apps where users can buy the digital stream and bypass cable.

Think about it.  Given the technology today, why DOES a network need an affiliate? Look at some of the top cable shows; they do very well without affils. Then take a well branded network like NBC, Fox, CBS or ABC and ask yourselves why do they need you when they have ways to go directly to viewers?

You might say you’re safe because the nets want the lucrative reverse comp you’re paying them. Their response could be, “We’ll get that directly from the cable guys when we feed them our program. And not dealing with affiliates will save money, time and frustration.”

You can’t say you’re surprised. It’s been pretty clear this is the way the industry is heading. But the future is a lot closer than you may have realized.

So let’s imagine your station gets “THAT” call today from the network. How will you survive? WILL you survive? If it happened to all of the station affiliates in your market, how would you all survive?

We’ve seen this happen already to individual stations in Jacksonville and in Charlotte. The station management was proactive.

Are you getting ready for that call? You should. Maybe you’ll sleep without nightmares.

By | 2016-12-13T15:28:01+00:00 November 4th, 2015|Uncategorized|0 Comments

About the Author:

Today developing an effective digital media strategy is critical for revenue growth and brand-building. Steve is working with station groups, website developers, content suppliers, and others to in three key areas: social media, web and mobile. In addition, Steve puts his extensive television news expertise to work for clients helping them develop and refine their on-air product. Steve has led news operations in markets across the country including Philadelphia, Atlanta, Hartford and Tampa. In addition, he has served as an executive at the corporate level for NBC Universal and Meredith Local Media leading strategic growth and digital content initiatives. Most recently, Steve was vice president of news at WTXF, FOX Philadelphia where he took all newscasts from a fourth place position to second or first. Steve has also served on several industry boards and is the winner of many awards including the Georgia AP Best Website Award and numerous Emmy awards.