Friday, January 31, 2014

Infographic: History of Radio

From hi-fi manufacturer Sonos, The History of Radio:

Public Trust in TV News: Not Good, and Highly Politicized

Polling firm Public Policy Polling recently released its fifth report looking at the public's trust of major TV news outlets.  The results shouldn't really be that much of a surprise, although it will shock most media elites.
  Its probably not a shock to find that the public places more trust in PBS as a news source than it does any of the major broadcast networks, and all but one cable news outlet.  Or that that Fox News is that one cable outlet.  The real shock is in the numbers themselves - and that more people trusted Comedy Central most than trusted MSNBC and NBC.

When asked which media outlet they most trusted for news (more than any other outlet) - 39% said Fox News; 14% said PBS; 11% said ABC; 10% said CNN; 9% said CBS; 6% said Comedy Central; 6% said MSNBC; and only 3% identified NBC as their most trusted source.  Turning it around, Fox News was also identified as the "least trusted" by 33% of those surveyed, followed by MSNBC at 19%, Comedy Central at 14%, and CNN at 11%.  The broadcast networks can take take some comfort that none were identified as least trusted by more than 5%.

The survey also asked about each TV news outlet individually.  Most had similar numbers indicating that they trusted the outlet as said they didn't trust it.  Only PBS was significantly "above water" in that 57% of the sample said they trusted PBS, but only 24% said they didn't.  The two outlets that were significantly "underwater" were Comedy Central (29% trust, 38% don't trust) and MSNBC (34% trust, 44% don't trust).  That's probably not a problem for Comedy Central, as they don't see themselves as an "objective" news outlet - but could be a problem for MSNBC unless it wants to be perceived more as an opinion outlet than a news outlet.

In a blow to the idea of "objectivity" by news outlets, the poll also found that trust for most news outlets is highly correlated with political affiliation.  For instance, Fox is both the most trusted among those identifying themselves as Republican, and the least trusted by those identifying themselves as Democrats.  In looking at the news outlets individually, there were 40-50 percentage point swings in trusted/not trusted between those who voted for Obama in the 2012 election and those who voted for Romney.  This wasn't just Fox News and MSNBC, but was a coonsistent pattern for all of the news outlets examined.  The pattern also held true against a more general measure of political ideology, and smaller differences across gender, ethnicity, and age.

Oh, and the survey found that Fox's Bill O'Rielly would beat Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert in a Presidential election match-up.

Sources -  NBC, MSNBC sink to the bottom of who the public trusts , Washington Examiner
5th Annual TV News Trust Poll,  Public Policy Polling report

Monday, January 27, 2014

Nielsen offloads LinkMeter project

When Nielsen acquired Arbitron, one potential regulatory roadblock was Arbitron's LinkMeter and its Project Blueprint collaboration with comScore and ESPN.  The Project was an effort to develop a cross-platform audience measurement system to compete with Nielsen's independent efforts in that area.   With some fearing that Nielsen would just shutter this potential competition, the FTC indicated that Nielsen would need to commit to market the LinkMeter technology to all comers in order to have the merger pass anti-trust review.

Nielsen seems to have gone one step further, announcing recently that it will divest itself of the LinkMeter system by selling it to comScore - one of the original collaborators and Nielsen's strongest competition in online media metrics.  The move should keep the efforts to develop a consensus crossplatform metric competitive for the time being.

Source -  Nielsen Finalizes Agreement To Sell Arbitron LinkMeter To comScore, Fulfills, FTC Antitrust Order,  Media Daily News

Graphic - Pay TV Saturation

Chart for Today -

The chart, from The Wall Street Journal, looks at the change in pay-TV subscriptions from the same time a year earlier.  That is, it's examining the annual growth rate of pay TV subscriptions, which in the U.S. dropped to near zero midway through 2010, and have been relatively stable since then.

 Breaking down the numbers, cable and DBS systems are heavy losers, but most of those losses are being offset by gains from teleco cable systems.  One reason cable companies are indicating a refocus on broadband Internet access rather than multichannel TV in their current business strategies.

Source - Fewer people in the U.S. are subscribing to pay-TV,  Wall Street Journal Twitter feed.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

CNN's fall continues

CNN, arguably the originator of 24-hour news network, and its once predominant purveyor, is seeing its ratings falling by 33% in the key 25-54 demographic over the last year under the leadership of Jeff Zucker.  Total viewing (all demos) wasn't much better, with a fall of 28% in the last year.  Nielsen reports that last week's key audience (adults 25-54) for CNN averaged only 78,000 over the day and 98,000 in primetime.  The overall viewing numbers weren't much better, with only 277,000 average in primetime. 

In contrast, the numbers for the same demo (adults 25-54) for MSNBC were 148,000 total day and 235,000 in primetime.  MSNBC's numbers were down 5% from same time last year for that demo, but down 11% in overall viewing.  Fox News Channel continued their recent dominance, with 218,000 total day average and 261,000 primetime average for the 25-54 demo.  In contrast to CNN and MSNBC's long term ratings declines, Fox's ratings were up 3% in the 25-54 demo, and 6% in total viewing over the same time last year.

CNN's frontline primetime programs were no help:  Anderson Cooper's AC360 posted its lowest ratings since moving to the 8pm primetime slot, and Piers Morgan Live had its second-lowest ratings in the last year.  Total viewing for AC360 was just 252,000 (Fox's O'Rielly led the time slot with 2.43 million viewers and MSNBC's All In With Chris Hayes pulled 557,000 total viewers).

Monday's overnight ratings weren't much better.  At 8pm. CNN's AC360 pulled in 457,000 viewers, still a distant third behind Fox's O'Rielly (with 2,662,000) and MSNBC's All In with Chris Hayes (with 903,000).  O'Rielly's audience, in fact, was almost twice that of CNN and MSNBC combined).  At the 9pm slot, CNN's Piers Morgan pulled in 445,000 viewers, still a distant third to MSNBC's Rachel Maddow (1,047,000) and Fox's Kelly File (2,241,000).
Sources -  CNN Falls to Lowest Ratings Yet Under Jeff Zucker,  Variety
CNN Ratings Decline Stirs Worry, New York Times
Cable News Ratings for Monday, January 20, 2014,  TV by the Numbers

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

What the Internet of Everything Looks Like

Cisco's made some short videos to illustrate what "The Internet of Everything" could mean.  Here's links to a few
Internet of Everything - Circle Story
Cisco Internet of Everything - Concert

I still prefer Corning's "A Day Made of Glass" video, however.  That video came out in 2011, but I saw examples of the mirror, table, desk, and multi-input screens on display at the Toshiba booth, and examples of the connected cars, at this year's CES.

One of the biggest impacts of this year's CES was just how fast these wild visions of the possible were becoming viable, and even affordable.

E-book reading gains sparked by increase in device ownership

The Pew Internet & American Life Project has release a report on "E-Reading."  The report notes that readership remains strong among American adults, with about three-quarters indicating that they had read at least one book in the last year - levels that have remained fairly consistent across Pew's studies from 2011 to 2014.  On the other hand, those reporting they have read an e-book have increased significantly, from 17% in 2011 to 28% in 2014.

One of the factors for the increased e-book readership is the rapid diffusion of handheld readers - in the form of dedicated readers like the Kindle, and/or in the form of tablets.  The study reports that, currently, half of Americans own tablets and/or e-readers.   In fact, e-book readers are almost as likely (55%) to use tablets for reading as they use e-readers (57%).

Tablet ownership growth and diffusion now outpaces that for e-readers.  In May, 2010, only 3% of American adults reported owning a table, growing to 42% by early January, 2014.  E-reader ownership was at 4% in May, 2010, rising to 32% in the latest survey.  As you'd expect, there are demographic differences in device ownership, those reporting reading at least one book (or ebook) a year, and in the number of books read annually.  However, only a few differences were sizable -
  • Older Americans, those with less than a high school education, and lower income, were all less likely to own handheld devices for reading.
  • In a bit of a surprise, younger adults (18-29) were also much less likely to have e-readers than tablets.
  • Hispanics were much less likely to report having read a book in the last year, both in print and e-book formats.
  • Age mattered in reporting having read an e-book (the older the less likely), but not in reading print books.
  • More women reported reading a book than men (74% v 64% for printed books; 33% v 23% for e-books)
  • E-book readers haven't abandoned print - 87% of those reading an e-book also report reading a printed book.
When asked about how many books they've read, the mean for all adults was 12, while the median was 5.  In other words, half read at least 5 books a year, and some portion read much more (for the mean to be that much higher requires that there be a lot of people who read a great deal more than that).  I can support that anecdotally - I read 30-50 books a year, and when I managed a used book store I had customers who read 10-20 books a week.

The study shows that women are not only more likely than men to have read a book, they also tend to read more books in a year.  Again, the other noticeable drop-off is for those self-identifying as Hispanic.  While there is likely some interaction effects with other demographic factors, I wonder if language (and the relative scarcity of Spanish-language books in the U.S.) might also be a contributing factor.

As an avid e-reader, I've noticed that I'm running across more and more non-English language books in the Kindle and iBook stores - but still nowhere near the number and variety of English-language books.  So relative scarcity and lack of diversity of Spanish-language books may be a contributing factor in the lower readership levels among Hispanics.

Source -  E-Reading Rises as Device Ownership Jumps,  Pew Internet & American Life Project report.

Social Media Demographics Vary - Instagram Most "Diverse"

Chart of the day - demographics vary across social media sites.

Sources -  Twitter Users' Diversity Becomes an Ad Selling Point, Wall Street Journal
Data from Pew Research Center's Social Media Update 2013

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Music licensing @CES2014

I attended what turned into a fun session on music licensing policy at CES in Las Vegas.  The paneL included a music industry rep from RIAA, the head of a public interest group, and two former musicians.

It started off on focus - acknowledging the mess that is music licensing in the US today, and some ideas for improvement.  The RIAA rep, Steven Marks, said one problem was that there was no comprehensive database of songs and performances, which could make it difficult to know whether a license was needed when using a recording, and who to contact to get it. 
[Which reminded me of a recent story that one of the nastiest of the licensers (for 'Happy Birthday to You') may actually have never filed for a legal copyright for the piece, and thus may have been illegally collecting licensing fees for decades.]
But he's right that having a central listing of licensed works would be helpful - particularly if they verify that pre-1976 works were actually copyrighted.  (Post- 1976 creations are automatically granted copyrights). He also suggested creating a basic licensing center for 'small' users.  Making things easier would arguably help those who want to be legal to do so.

Mark Weinberg, acting Co-President of Public Knowledge - a public interest group promoting wider diffusion of knowledge and content, concurred that making it easier for music users to know what licenses may or may not be needed, and making them easier to obtain would be useful - but was concerned that the industry would try to limit fair use exemptions and collect fees from those who shouldn't have to pay.  He also expressed a desire to see the industry become more flexible in dealing with new media and applications, to support innovations and the exploration of potential new music outlets.  He noted that there was a wide range of music licensing strategies (and different rates) being applied to the wide variety of digital music distribution options - and that applying a single consistent standard, regardless of what technological backend was used for delivery, would be helpful.

Next came Dave Allen, former Gang of Four member.  He made a strong point about the changes in the music industry.  Vastly more listened to radio or streaming sources today. He noted that the prime source for music with today's youth is YouTube (the RIAA guy agreed), but since most of the music content there is in the form of promotional videos, they don't pay royalties.  That led to a claim that the record industry is making deals with streamers that bypass licensing fees and cheat musicians, joined by Hank Shocklee (founder of Public Enemy), and prompting predictable objections from Steve Marks (Chief, Digital Business and General Counsel for RIAA).  The discussion of that generated a great deal of fun back and forth between the artists on the panel and the RIAA rep.

But the key point, which Dave Allen came back to later when things calmed down, was that digital and streaming music sources had the potential to scale much higher than the old record industry, again something the RIAA rep and other panel members acknowledged. Marks, from RIAA, noted that the scale of the physical recordings industry was always fairly small - people, on average, bought only 2-3 records a year, and acknowledged that the potential of digital to be significantly higher. Someone made the point that in the heyday of the old records industry, hit records were sales in the hundreds of thousands in the U.S.  Today, Spotify's paid subscribership in the U.S. is around 6 million, and Beyonce's recent digital album sales were in the millions in the first month alone. Allen suggested the digital market could easily explode - if the right model and pricing develops.

One problem delaying the scale-up is the fact that today's rights fee scales are derived from the payment schedule for vinyl records and that scale of sales.  Revising rights fees (lower) to the higher scale levels could encourage more listening, scale up music use, and benefit artists even more than the current system.  Of course, the RIAA guy wasn't about to support reducing licensing fees, but the head of Public Knowledge encouraged the idea, as a way of  encouraging exploration and development of new delivery options. 

I've been thinking about licensing fees and pricing strategies a lot lately (particularly focused on the bundling vs. a la carte debate on cable), and had a couple of proposals to offer - but the session ran out of time.  I wanted to support the notion of thinking of rescaling rights fees to the potential scale of digital systems - while it might initially reduce short-term revenue generation, it would accelerate the growth of those systems and in the long term had the potential in the long term to generate much higher revenues for the industry and the artists.  The other idea I wanted to raise was the notion of exploiting versioning.

Versioning is a strategy in marketing information goods where different versions of the product are offered at different prices, or to different market segments.  Versioning, based on sound quality, seems to have a natural potential for music.  It's already in regular use - Spotify offers free access to lower-quality streams, and lets subscribers also upgrade their subscriptions to higher-quality.  However, the current licensing system applies the same fees for all quality versions.  If the licensing fee rate schedules would similarly differentiate between quality versions, this could address many of the Public Knowledge's concerns about providing a mechanism for exploration and development of new music distribution systems.  It could also facilitate a better music promotion and sampling system - letting people to listen to low-rez versions of whole songs rather than the current method of allowing very short snippets from the start of songs.

Certainly, all the panelists, and most everyone in the audience, agreed that the current music rights and licensing scheme is massively screwed up, and the inevitable "strong debates" over major record labels handling of rights and fee reimbursements to artists just acts to delay any efforts towards solutions.  There are very reasonable proposals out there, some expressed by panelists, and multiple others being offered by academics, professionals, and policy types (including my own not-so-humble ideas).  It's time, as the panel title suggests, to "Stop Fighting and Fix It."

Sources -
Video of the Stop Fighting and Fix It music licensing session at the CEA Innovative Policy Summit, CES2014, can be found here.

Monday, January 20, 2014

We're Number One! - but that's not good

A recent study of the Return on Investment (ROI) of college degrees by has some bad news for many college graduates.  With student loans in the U.S. now passing $1 trillion, median incomes falling, and unemployment levels for recent liberal arts graduates running 2-3 times national average, its a good time to re-examine college education as an investment in future earnings.  Of course, there's a lot of other reasons to go to college and to choose a particular career - primarily that you love working in that field - but it's smart to also consider the economics as well.

To calculate the ROI of degrees, they calculated the average cost of liberal arts degrees from public universities ($37,343) and private four-year colleges ($121,930), and then used their data on 30 years of salary data to calculate the median (half above, half below) salary for jobs requiring that degree and compared it to the median salaries for those with only a high school education.  They then looked at how much of the costs would be repaid from the salary gains from having the degree, over 30 years (discounted for inflation, etc.).  Of course, these estimates are projections (educated guesses) and averages (medians), meaning half will do better, but half will do worse.  As the ads say, "your mileage may vary."

The report lists 8 liberal arts majors whose earnings gains typically won't surpass the costs of education, even after 30 years - particularly if you go to a private college or university.  Included are sociology, fine arts, education, religious studies/theology, hospitality/tourism, nutrition, and psychology.

Ranked #1 in the report is Communications.  The post lists three typical job tracks: News Reporter with a median salary of $37,393 (ROI public college 58%, private college 17%); Marketing Coordinator with a median salary of $50,355 (ROI public 79%, private 23%); and Copywriter with median salary of $52,549 (ROI public 82%, private 24%).  Of course, that's all if you work in the field.  Job surveys consistently show only half of media and journalism majors working in the field within several years after graduation.  And job opportunities for editors are plummeting (see previous post).  Opportunities are better, and salaries higher, in fields such as advertising, public relations/marketing, and corporate communications, but not by a lot.

The main point of this is that these are fields you shouldn't go into for the money.  Yes, there are always those that reach the top and grab the big bucks - but most don't.  If you're going to major in communications or any of the other listed fields, do it because it's something you enjoy and are good at.  If so, and you put in the hard work to get ahead, you may just pay off your student loans and the full cost of your education.
[It's interesting to note that many of what are regularly considered the "best" journalism programs in the U.S. are at private universities and/or are graduate programs (Masters-level) that add to the costs of education.  Most of their students aren't likely to come remotely close to recouping those costs - at least not if they stay in the field.]

Source -  8 College Degrees with the Worst Return on Investment,

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Milepost: Flipboard passes 100 million users

Flipboard, founded in 2009 as a personalized digital app recently announced passing two mileposts - passing 100 million users in December 2013, and hosting more than 5 million individual online magazines.

The ability of users to individually curate online magazines with content from various net sources was added with last March's major upgrade to Flipboard 2.0.  At the time, Flipboard had 50 million users.  The company expects that the expanded platform and search capabilities will have Flipboard passing 150 million users within the year.
"You will see us [in 2014] start to enhance our discovery capabilities, making the discovery capabilities work with all these magazines that people are creating, so that you will be able to discover this stuff,"  (Flipboard founder Mark) McCue says.
To be transparent - I've currently got five Flipboard personal magazines, one in conjunction with/ supplement to this blog JEMS, a limited-term supplement connected with my trip to CES this year JEMS@CES2014.  A third service mag is Media & Audience Research Reports, which links to white papers and research reports available online.  Two more personal curations are The Esoteric Bits and Serendipitous Video.

Source -  Personalized digital magazine app Flipboard aims for 150 million users, The Guardian

Jobs Trend - Editor Out, Content Marketing In

The publishing industry is among the latest feeling the impact of the digital transformation tsunami.  This has a lot of industry professionals thinking about changing careers.  Max Kalehoff, writing in OnlineSPIN, suggests that the growing demand for people with writing and editing skills in the marketing industry is attracting interest from those in the print publishing world.
These career-changers are coming from all sides of publishing, including editorial, sales, research and circulation, and from all levels of experience, from the C-suite down to college students whose only internships were in publishing. Some of them work at the world’s largest publishers facing restructuring, while others are in relatively stable roles at niche publishers and see an opportunity to redeploy their talents.
The change is also being seen in the job postings on job websites and retrieved through search engines.  The number of postings containing the key words "Publishing" or "Editor" has plummeted to half the level of four years ago. 
On the other hand, postings using "Content Manager" keywords have doubled over the same time period, and currently outnumber postings using either "Publishing" or "Editor".
Use of the "Content Strategist" keyword was negligible four years ago, but today there are more job postings for "Content Strategist" than "Editor."

With more conduits for content, there is an increasing need for those who find creative ways to identify, publicize, and promote new uses for content.  In other words, "content strategists" and "content managers."  Kalehoff suggests there's growing opportunity within the marketing field for people who "command written words and storytelling," and with "skills in syndication and audience building."  As the media world becomes increasingly multiplatform, there will be opportunity for those who can develop and exploit these new channels for content distribution, whether within traditional publishing, or within marketing.

Source -  Publishing Industry's Turbulence Create Surge of Talent for Marketers,  OnlineSPIN

FCC's Net Neutrality Rules Vacated - Are They Needed?

A Federal appeals court has vacated the FCC's most recent attempt to impose "Net Neutrality" rules, ruling that the FCC overstepped its formal authority in creating the rules in the first case.  While some public interest groups expressed shock and outrage, the ruling was hardly unexpected.  After all, the Federal courts had made essentially the same ruling on the FCC's first set of "Net Neutrality" rules, which the FCC promptly ignored in pushing forth the second set, using essentially the same argument despite some language changes.

So what does this mean?  Well, the special interest group "FreePress" says this could be the end of the Internet as we know it.  But what the end of the current "Net Neutrality" rules (which were largely stayed and unenforced during court proceedings) means is that we're back to the Internet as we know it - the goal of the rules was to change how the Internet worked, after all.  But "FreePress" is right in its call for the FCC to do it right the next time - to actually work within its existing authority, or to seek additional authority from Congress if needed, rather than creating a regulatory framework by administrative fiat (sadly a widespread habit within this administration).

As I've posted before (here and here), I've been skeptical of the need for the currently expressed vision of "Network Neutrality" as preventing ISPs, operators, etc. from discriminating against content (thus sticking it to the "evil" and "greedy" cable and telecomm operators).  Under the historic common carrier regulatory framework for telecommunications, operators could not refuse to offer services or discriminate among users on a content basis.  But the FCC had identified ISPs as information services, which were not subject to common carrier regulation.  While common carrier status was, strictly speaking, a basis of telephone FCC regulation and not computer communications (or information services), I think the common carrier argument is easily extensible since the two networks are essentially converged today.  Redefining ISPs as telecomm common carriers may well take some time and a fair bit of legal wrangling - but would provide the regulatory authority that the FCC needs to prevent unfair discrimination in service.

That may not be enough for some Net Neutrality proponents, who would like to also prevent operators from offering additional services (guaranteed speeds, etc.) at different prices.  That's more problematic in my mind, limiting exploration and diffusion of new services and content - not to mention making it impossible to cross-subsidize services and enable additional infrastructure investment, things that have helped users.

And you also have to worry about the end game of absolute equality - which inevitably can be achieved only at the lowest common denominator.  Do we want a rule that insists that all ISPs and telco operators can only offer one level of service at low prices - at whatever speeds are universally available in the national grid?

So FCC, if you're going to push for Internet regulatory authority and actually try to regulate normal operations, please try to do so correctly.  With proper authority, and with due consideration of that the actual impact of your regulations will be (rather than the political goals you hope to achieve).

Sources -  Verdict: Net Neutrality is Dead... for now,
Federal appeals court strikes down net neutrality rules, Washington Post

Monday, January 6, 2014

“TV Everywhere” – Good, Bad, & Ugly

Some quick bits from the headlines about the diffusion of “TV Everywhere” –

Good – A plethora of new studies show that broadband access and speeds are continuing to grow (the backbone allowing realtime HDTV streaming).  AT&T’s telco cable systems are pushing wireless boxes.  A forecast from NPD Group predicts that connected TVs will grow by 44% over the next two hears

Bad – On the other hand, another survey is suggesting that while the technology’s connected, and content increasingly available, use may be lagging.  A survey reports that 82% of respondents didn’t know what “TV Everywhere” referred to, and only 4% know their login/account information for authentication.

Ugly – The looming problem of licensing: as networks and program creators work to push licensing fees higher and higher, there’ll be increasing push to limit access through authentication, and increased costs and burdens for audiences.  (See earlier post).  The real problem here is that while driving licensing fees up may be a short term revenue gain, it’s likely to also result in audience losses in the long term (which will harm both advertising and licensing revenue streams). 

Sources -  IP-Connected TV Devices Set For A Surge,  Multichannel News
Viewers Not Embracing TV Everywhere,  MediaPost Weekend 

IRTS - Poltrack confirms shifting audience habits

The second speaker today was David Poltrack, Chief Research Officer, CBS.  He confirmed trends he hinted at at an earlier IRTS.  With new devices and new delivery channels, people's viewing patterns are changing.  Some highlights:

  • This year, 94% of their large tracking sample are "connected."  Less than 10% of US TVHH only watch TV on home TV sets.
  • Delayed viewing is accounting for large and growing portion of viewing and ratings - not just for the big prime time series but in all day parts.
  • Streaming, VOD, and mobile are all seeing big increases in TV viewing.
  • Non-live viewing not only large share of total viewing, but showing some differentiable habits developing.
  • Broadcasters, advertisers, ratings services are trying to develop better metrics.
  • Streaming-only big series draw audiences similar to big pay-TV series, prime time broadcast series.
  • Second screen usage up to 67% for some demographics
  • Email, texting, and chatting is most frequent activity.  Gaming is second (20% of  USTVHH is playing Candy Crash while watching TV.
Basically, the audiences are becoming more active, and programmers and networks are trying to figure out how to reach them.

Viva Las Vegas & CES

This week, I’ll be at the Consumer Electronics Show in Law Vegas, participating in the IRTS/CES Faculty/Industry Seminar and the Connections session track sponsored by Park Associates.  The theme of the Seminar is Audiences Across Devices, which reflects several of the major themes in CES – the Internet of Things, connected Cars, connected Homes, adjusting Policy to accommodate myriad new content delivery systems and devices (wearables looks big) - plus the new 4K TVs and other toys.

Anyway, thanks for bearing with the scarcity of postings over the holidays – the next bunch will likely focus on CES, then I’ll try to catch up.

Also see

Thursday, January 2, 2014

"TV Everywhere" Challenged

The concept of "TV Everywhere" - the ubiquitous access to TV programming on any device, at any time, and at any location (including while mobile) is facing a critical challenge from those seeking to control access so as to maximize licensing fees and revenues.  This can be seen in several recent trends:

  1. Lawsuits against Aereo and similar services that seek to make local broadcast station signals accessible from mobile devices (without actually putting a tuner and antenna onboard).  Almost as soon as the product started trials in several cities, networks and big station groups filed suit challenging the legality of the practice.  The broadcasters have lost at every court level so far, and have asked the Supreme Court to weigh in on the temerity of anyone helping people to watch free over-the-air TV broadcasts without paying them.  I'm hoping that the case gets cert, so that a Justice can ask the network lawyers - "So, in essence, you want to prevent people from watching free over-the-air TV signals on anything other than a TV set?" - or - "You're arguing that you deserve to be paid so people can watch your free broadcast signal?"  The whole idea that stations - who are losing audiences to competition - wouldn't want to expand their potential audience base is kind of nonsensical, until you realize that stations and networks are increasingly turning to licensing fees as a major revenue source.
  2. The drive for maximizing licensing fees through retrans fees for local stations.  CBS in particular is pushing the idea that cable MSOs need to pay $3-5/mo. per subscriber in retransmission fees for their local affiliates.  While this may seem a good short-term strategy, it's likely to lead to some MSOs (which remain - with DBS & telco cable operators - the major source for video programming for 90% of US households) dropping the local affiliates.  And if successful, it'll sure lead to sticker shock if the Big Four jacks up subscription costs $15-20 a month for watching "free" TV, and probably a lot of people selecting to not take that bundle.  The broadcasters seem to be realizing that "free" and loading up on licensing fees are incompatible, so they're resorting to classic fear-mongering of taking all the good programs (and sports) to pay cable.  
  3. In the meantime, ABC is looking to regain control of online access to its programs, by seeking to block subscribers of DirecTV, the Dish, and TWC (TimeWarnerCable) from being able to access recently aired programs online.  It's also removing access to that programming from the free version of Hulu+.  Those wanting access will have to subscribe to Hulu Plus, or purchase episodes at $2.99 a piece from iTunes or Amazon.  CBS and Fox are also said to be blocking online access to recent programs and/or looking to move access behind paywalls.  The blocking is said to be limited to systems without "authentication" deals, which assure that only paying customers get access to current programming.
"TV Everywhere" had been set to take off, with big gains in mobile and online viewing, and an increase in authentication protocols.  But a lot of that is predicated on the idea that online and mobile viewing is free, or at least included in existing subscription levels.  Behaviors that seemed designed to make such viewing more costly, such as the efforts outlined above, are not likely to be well-received by consumers.  After all, they have an exploding universe of free content alternatives that they can choose from instead.  With a few exceptions, moving network series and programming from "free" to "pay" is likely to be disastrous - particularly for an industry that still is funded predominantly by advertisers and audience size.