Teaching the Business Part 2: What Are Networks Buying
Does your concept seem to really fit into the programming line up?
But are the networks really buying shows? If so, what are they buying? What do you, the creator, get out of a network deal? The big part of my teaching is to explain about the networks and how they acquire programming and at what cost.
Since the famous “Fin Syn” act, which was briefly mentioned in “Money, Money Where are You?,” there has been a real 180 turn in how the networks feel about content. They now can own it and they want to own the whole thing, from shows to toys. The Fin Syn act gave them the right to own the studio, own the network and other media. We saw Disney buy ABC, and Viacom, which owned Paramount, buy CBS. Rupert Murdock’s 20th Century Fox already had roots in place with it Fox Television. Warner Bros. joined in with the WB Network.
What they didn’t realize in 1994 was the convergence of media as we have seen it grow today. The immergence of new media was barely considered and cable was just CNN and a few specialty channels.
The networks thought, “Goody, we have the majority of the audience, and now we own the content. Be damned with syndicated programming! Be damned with acquisitions! We own the world.” They didn’t realize that they would have the fierce competition from cable and internet at that time.
I even recall engaging in a meeting with an AT&T representative in 1996 looking for libraries of content to buy. I thought, this is so strange, why in the world would a phone company want content? Who knew they were thinking ahead 14 years to their UVerse delivery systems and AT&T mobile
In a very short time in 1994, the networks put a lot of indie producers out of business. They had their big studios that could crank out content. They thought knew what their audiences wanted and they could see the dollar signs. But over time the networks felt the audience demand for new content. They also found that they had to feed small networks on cable and who knew what mobile and internet were going to do to them.
Nets could not keep up so they started to look outside again but with a different deal.