Fox plans to be part of the procession of programmers offering shows directly to consumers online. “I think it’s great, and there are a lot of plans we’re working on,” COO Chase Carey told investors today at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference. “It’s a big priority for us.” He didn’t go into detail, but said that “consumers want this choice, and we have to play a direct role.”
This is partly a response to cable and satellite companies’ failure to effectively promote their TV Everywhere streaming services for subscribers. “We were talking about TV Everywhere six years ago,” Carey said. “It’s not anywhere near where it should be.” Other network owners also are rolling out online services: For example, CBS has CBS All Access. HBO says it will have an offering this year. And, yesterday, NBC said that it’s working on a subscription-based comedy channel.
Still, the Fox exec says his online efforts must not “cannibalize our networks” in the traditional pay-TV bundle – which he continues to defend as a good deal for consumers. “I’m not saying there isn’t a millennial issue out there, or people with economic pressures” who elect to not pay $80+ a month for dozens of channels that they don’t watch. “And I do think over time over-the-top [online video streaming] will become a bigger part of it. But people really like the choice of content” in the expanded basic offering.
Carey adds that some video streaming services available today “are not constructed with the consumer in mind. They are constructed around deals.” He wants Fox to “be a leader in shaping those offers” to viewers.
Asked about prospects for the Fox network, Carry says that “we have gotten it to a place where it’s bottomed out after a few tough years.” Shows including Empire and Gotham have helped a lot because “the value of hits is exponentially growing.… You have to have something that stands out.” He’s also upbeat about Fox Sports 1, although he acknowledges that the “programming side is still a work in progress.… It takes time. But I think it’s going to be one of the great assets of the company long-term.”
Like other media execs, Carey remains unenthusiastic about the U.S. ad market. “It’s not as robust as we’d like, but it’s okay – not dramatically different than what it’s been recently.” He acknowledges that some advertisers are shifting dollars from TV to digital although he warns that it’s often based on “hope, not delivery” of eyeballs. Television “still is a vital part of ad budgets and the effectiveness of it continues to withstand the test of time.”