Sinclair exec: Content rights need to be relaxed for the digital age

Multiplatform viewing

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. -- Arduous content rights management protocols, which worked just fine in linear television, are slowing programmers as they stream more and more of their content, said Ben Miller, VP of digital products for broadcaster Sinclair. 

“Content rights, especially in news, are insane,” Miller said Tuesday, speaking at Streaming Media West conference. Miller added that his company’s legal team is in agreement -- the rules need to be relaxed if Sinclair is going to compete aggressively in digital media. 

The message: “You are missing out on the audience. You need to relax some of these obligations,” Miller added. 

Sponsored by Dell Technologies

Whitepaper: How to Elevate Your Content Delivery Workflows With Dell EMC PowerScale

Learn how Dell EMC PowerScale helps meet surging viewer demand while reducing costs with a single centralized platform for the ingest, processing, and delivery of the content your viewers love.

The problem is acute for programmers like Sinclair that control very little of their own content. 

Speaking on the same panel alongside Miller, Jeff Tapper, senior VP of engineering for Viacom, noted that his company’s channels -- which range from adult-targeted networks like Comedy Central to kiddie outlets like Nickelodeon -- own much of their programming. 

“There’s very little content we use a full DRM on,” Tapper said.

In the wide-ranging conversation, Miller also said that the flora and fauna of streaming devices has become untenable, and it isn’t cost-effective to program for devices that serve only a small fraction of the market. 

“You have to pick the top 20-25 devices,” he said. “We can concentrate on giving a good experience to 98 percent of the audience and monitoring it and improving it. 

Tapper noted that for Viacom networks, devices and associated apps vary greatly from network to network. The older viewers of Comedy Central, for example, are working adults who can afford state-of-the-art IP devices, while the younger audience of Nick Jr. tends to watch on a lot of older hand-me-down devices. 

“You need to know where your audience is and be in the right place for that,” Tapper said. 

Read more on

Suggested Articles

T-Mobile has relaunched its TVision pay TV service with a new Android TV-based streaming device and several new programming tiers.

RDK Management today revealed RDK4 – the newest generation of its open source software platform that runs on pay TV set-top boxes.

MCTV, a video and broadband provider in Ohio and West Virginia, has picked MobiTV Connect to run its new IP-based video service, MCTV Stream.