Pay-TV is getting slim and going OTT, but will the kids come?

Daniel Frankel, FierceCableNormally when the captains of media industry announce new products, it's kind of nice when they seem excited. But that's not what's happening at the major programming conglomerates, as they reluctantly plunge forward with over-the-top distribution.

As FierceCable's latest feature notes, entertainment conglomerates and their networks are now, for the first time, open to participating in the somewhat experimental OTT products being cooked up by their pay-TV partners. But faced with a TV advertising base that is slowly slipping away to digital platforms, and declining confidence in operators' ability to help them sustain their audiences and margins, programmers are getting, well, a little desperate to try something new.

Please read: Cord maybes: Pay-TV chases millennials with OTT services, but success is hardly guaranteed

Discussing his network's participation in Dish Network's upcoming virtual MVPD service aimed at millennials, for example, ESPN president John Skipper summed up this "might-as-well" attitude, noting that something must be done to hook the young generation on pay-TV channels like ESPN before it's too late. 

"The good news is we're in [Dish's new service]," explained Skipper, bursting with, er, excitement while speaking at a Re/code event in September. "And that's the good news. That's as far as I want to go with this."

If programmers don't' seem enthusiastic, it's also hard to gauge the excitement level of pay-TV operators, who seem to be getting--only in some cases--a minimal break on network packaging requirements from program providers, and certainly no price breaks network licensing costs, as the they attempt to assemble slimmed down network bundles.

As we note in our feature, nobody on either the pay-TV or programming side is going to get rich anytime soon with OTT.

And the big question remains: Will these new offerings turn the twentysomething apartment dwellers into lifelong pay-TV citizens? Read here to find out all the answers.--Dan

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