The 21st Century Fox COO has a lot at stake in preserving the pay TV bundle, and scoffs at consumers’ continuing interest in a la carte pricing. “It is a farce,” he told the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference. “People may want different bundles, but a la carte isn’t the answer…The bundle is still a great proposition for the consumer, when you compare it to the world of $5 lattes and cell phone bills.” Chase Carey concedes that pay TV networks and distributors have been too slow to offer content on the Internet. “TV Everywhere is the right path but has been poorly executed….We have to be part of the solution, not just sitting here, picking and complaining.” That will have to include developing business models for digital. “We haven’t scratched the surface.” He’s glad, though, that his company, Disney and Comcast decided not to sell Hulu. “Once we became convinced we had a shared vision for the opportunity, we moved naturally to a place …where we put the capital commitments behind it.”
On other fronts: Carey says domestic ad sales softened over the last month, although international remains “pretty strong.”
At the cable networks, he defended FXX’s decision to license re-run rights to The Simpsons. “It’s not just going to deliver ratings,” he says. Since it also includes significant digital rights “it will be a branding force and a defining force” for the channel.
Carey’s also optimistic about Fox Sports 1. “We have challenges. Some things worked and some things haven’t,” But he expects to see more audience engagement next year when baseball, NASCAR and golf join the schedule. “It’s not a two-to-three month [process], it’s two-to-three years.” As for the broader sports TV market, the genre is “the most powerful programming out there” although the high costs make it “a double-edged sword.”
Carey also likes broadcast TV. He shied from saying whether he thinks 2014 will be the year when ads are sold based on seven-day viewing (the jargon term is C7) vs the current three days (or C3). “C7 is, if anything, past overdue. But it’s not three vs seven. There’s a amount of viewing to the 28th day. We need to develop the ability to reflect it.”