TV-on-DVD's Effect on Programming

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Ravi K, Nov 25, 2005.

  1. Ravi K

    Ravi K Supporting Actor

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    We all know how strong DVD sales resurrected Family Guy. Has TV-on-DVD affected TV programming in any other ways? Will it affect programming in the future? Unlike the cinema, there is little or no room for niche shows that have a small but dedicated followings (Arrested Development), but could TV-on-DVD make the networks more open to greenlighting shows that might not necessarily have large ratings but might garner good numbers on DVD?
     
  2. Jaime_Weinman

    Jaime_Weinman Supporting Actor

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    No, because the network doesn't make money from DVD sales. (Even where the network and the production company are owned by the same company, the network has to make a profit on its own, so the money Fox Home Entertainment makes on "Arrested Development" DVDs doesn't help the Fox Network make a profit.) A network is going to greenlight a show on the basis of what it can do for the network (get good ratings, make advertising dollars), not the DVD department. From a network's point of view, DVD sales are more of a promotional tool.
     
  3. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    The short answer is, "It depends, but probably not."

    2) FCC rules changes in recent years have made it easier for studios to own networks (Fox, UPN and The WB are the results) and networks both to own studios and to own the shows they air - both of which were forbidden or stictly limted under the old rules. (The studios were banned from owning TV networks on anti-trust grounds in the 50s, at the same time they were being stripped of their theaters. Networks were restricted in ownership and control of programming as part of the response to the quiz show scandals at around the same time.)

    But it is still the case on the big four networks that most of the shows they air in prime time are owned by a studio unaffiliated with the network. Even those that are affiliated with studios rarely directly benefit from ancillary items like DVD sales. The WB network may not get a piece of the action when Warner Bros. Television sellls one of its shows overseas or when Warner Home Video releases the DVDs, or it does its share may be very small. Obviously NBC or ABC doesn't make a dime when a Fox-owned show sells overseas or is released on DVD.

    2) The network's immediate job is to earn money via advertising dollars for its parent company. In addition it has to provide its affiliated stations with shows that will produce good ratings to support local advertising rates. Even if the network completely owned a show and was going to realize 100% of the profits from a DVD release down the road it would not make sense to keep it on the air if the ratings were very bad. (Besides which extremely low ratings would seem to militate against the idea that the show will later do big numbers on DVD. Granted shows cancelled for low ratings have done well on DVD, it is hard to see how you can figure out in advance whether or not a given series will do so.)

    A show that is 100% network own and "on the bubble" as far as ratings are concerned might be saved from oblvion by the prospect of future DVD sales if there was nothing else in the pipeline that seemed likely to draw better numbers. But not many shows in a given year are going to fall into that category.

    Regards,

    Joe
     
  4. Jesse Skeen

    Jesse Skeen Producer

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    Thank goodness, otherwise I wouldn't be buying any Fox titles.
     
  5. Ravi K

    Ravi K Supporting Actor

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    The first point you guys made is that the profits of a home entertainment division of a studio does not necessarily have an impact on the TV division. Am I correct in assuming that this is not the same relationship between the movie production division and home entertainment, since TV was hardly a blip on video until very recently?
     
  6. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    I believe it varies from studio to studio, but your assumption isn't necessarily correct. The studios are famous for finding ways to make sure the books don't show a profit so they can afford paying out on profit participation deals. Isolating DVD revenues from film revenues is one way to do this, so the studios would have a motive for doing so. (Imagine a home video division paying a license fee for use of a feature film, then keeping the profits, or shares them with the stuido as an entity, but not the individual film. No money is credited to P&L statement of the film, so the studio doesn't have to pay out under "percentage of net" deals.)

    Regards,

    Joe
     
  7. Sean D.

    Sean D. Agent

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    They keep looking at Futurama.
     
  8. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

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    There are two different TV divisions to discuss. There is production (for example, Twentieth Television), and there is distribution (for example, Fox Network and FX). Home video sales have an impact on production, but much less of one on the networks and cable outlets, especially when they're not vertically integrated.

    For instance, UPN doesn't see any money from Veronica Mars DVDs, because that all goes to Warner. They may see some increased interest, but it's a second-order effect. And on top of that, even when the same company owns both the production studio and the network, the two are functionally autonomous, although more likely to co-operate (low-priced ads for season box sets, releasing the prior season before the new one).

    Arrested Development selling well on DVD is great for Fox as a whole, but not necessarily a consideration for the Fox Network - the show is still getting lousy ratings, which means lousy ad rates, and maybe even angry affiliate stations if the network insists on airing a show that the audience doesn't want basically because it serves as good promotion for the eventual DVD release.
     

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