Time Warner Cable has teamed up with Viacom to allow Time Warner customers on-demand online access to full-length episodes from Viacom owned TV channels like Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and VH1.
While Time Warner customers can currently watch all Viacom channels live online through the TWC TV feature, this new offering enables customers to log in to Viacom authenticated channel websites with their cable IDs. The advantage of this new feature means that Time Warner customers can watch any episodes they missed on demand, without any need for scheduling a DVR recording.
Many current and past television shows are available online, which can be a powerful disincentive for pay TV subscriptions. As a result, media companies are finally putting their content behind walls so only pay TV subscribers can access them. This is a welcome development for cable and satellite companies, since the reason to get pay TV is to watch shows that non-subscribers can’t. Time Warner has been losing subscribers for many reasons, but the fact that viewers could watch some of the same content online for free certainly didn’t help. The old model of cable networks providing the same content online for free to non-pay TV subscribers is one of the biggest sticking points in content fee negotiations. Why should a cable company pay to carry content that non-subscribers can access online for free?
Pay TV content providers like Viacom depend on TV advertising and content fees from cable companies like Time Warner for their revenue. The explosion of internet access and ready availability has provided new challenges in terms of revenue opportunities, as consumers change their habits around increased convenience. Networks would like to charge cable and satellite TV providers more for carriage fees, but why should pay TV providers agree if the content is available to people who can avoid paying? Where’s the incentive for pay TV services if the content providers are undercutting the customers who are actually paying to watch? Access to cable channels isn’t like access to clean air and water, so it makes sense for networks to finally catch up and reserve their content for pay TV customers.