A battle between NBC and some of its affiliate stations over Peacock ads illustrates the problem network affiliates are having with the future of TV.
NBC plans to run Peacock ads during a new 30 Rock special. As a result, some NBC stations say they won’t air the program.
If you wonder what many network affiliates these days think of their networks trying to launch streaming services, that should tell you. The broadcast networks all want to compete with services like Netflix and Hulu. So they’ve been working on streaming services of their own for that purpose.
CBS has CBS All Access. ABC, as far as I can tell, doesn’t yet have a separate streaming service. But NBC has launched Peacock, a reference to its colorful mascot.
CBS All Access offers episodes of current CBS Network shows, classic shows and originals like Star Trek: Picard and The Good Fight that only air on the service.
NBC offers episodes of its current shows, classics and even some Universal movies on Peacock.
And therein lies the rub.
For television stations, networks are beginning to compete with their own affiliate stations for viewers.
Multiple station ownership groups, including Gray, Hearst, Nexstar, Sinclair and Tegna won’t broadcast a 30 Rock Reunion Special Thursday, The Wrap reported. It says the special “will double as an advertisement for NBCUniversal’s 2020-21 programming and its new streaming service, Peacock.”
Affiliates are not required to air the programming of the broadcast network with which they are tied, the site says. But different networks have different rules. Some allow only a certain number of pre-emptions over the course of the year.
As TV becomes more and more fragmented, this is the reality local stations must face.
There will likely come a time when there won’t be traditional network affiliates anymore. That will mean stations will have to fend for themselves when it comes to programming. By then, the networks will all have their own streaming services. And those streaming services will all require subscriptions.
It may not be a pretty picture, but we’ll one day be asking ourselves (if we aren’t already), just how many streaming services can we really afford to pay for!