How the TV Business Got Rich Off the Thing That Was Going to the Kill It: The Internet
Originally published: January 9, 2013
Last updated: January 9, 2013 - 9:47pm
What's going on? The Internet was supposed to make traditional companies poor. Instead, the Internet is making them rich.
"We heard stories about how cable was doomed by the Internet as early as 2003," says Craig Moffett, an analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein. "It has finally dawned on investors that, not only was that never a realistic concern, but also, the Internet has turned out to be a boon for both distributors and content companies." To understand why the Internet hasn't destroyed cable, ask yourself: Where do you get your Internet? It's probably from the same people selling you TV. Since 2005, total cable industry revenue is up 50% -- and two-thirds of that increase came from selling something that wasn't television. For the most part, it was Internet. Cable companies like Comcast and Time Warner Cable sell broadband at ridiculously high margins. When you compare the total cost and profit of selling TV versus selling Internet, it's clear to Moffett that pay TV "has represented less than half of [cable's] business for more than a year." While cable has made Internet a second business, content companies have treated the Internet as a second window. Even as they demand more money from cable operators for the right to carry their channels to households, media companies have also made a killing selling their shows to companies like Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, and Apple.
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