Tech and TV: Twitter drives viewers; cable and a la carte talk; more

New technology is upending all kinds of media, such as newspapers. Today we revisit how it’s affecting TV, in light of some news:

• Twitter bee: Buzz on the social network helps increase television viewership, says a new study by Nielsen. It also works the other way, with TV viewership causing a spike in tweets. Nielsen reportedly says its next step will be around “understanding how/why.”

Bloomberg says it’s the first time a study has found these links, which could add to Twitter’s marketing opportunities. As we’ve mentioned, the San Francisco company has partnerships with some TV networks that involve video clips to promote shows.

By the way, Nielsen is a Twitter partner. Coming later this year is its Twitter TV Rating system, which will show advertisers the effects of tweets on television shows.

• Meanwhile, cable companies and others in the entertainment industry have had drama with new technology. As the Internet provides new ways for people to view movies and shows at their convenience, Cablevision CEO James Dolan concedes there’s a possibility his company could one day stop offering TV service. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Dolan said his kids prefer Netflix, and that he has learned from how tech has disrupted the music industry. If you don’t “ride the wave, you get eaten by the wave,” he said.

• Different channel, similar drama: CBS is blacked out in big markets such as New York and Los Angeles because the network and Time Warner can’t agree on retransmission fees (what cable companies pay TV networks to broadcast their shows). Monday, Time Warner offered to let viewers pay for CBS separately. CBS called the offer, which would be a move away from the bundling on which the TV and cable industries have depended, a “sham” and an “empty gesture.” A la carte programming is often talked about but is probably far from being realized.

Aereo, a startup that streams broadcast TV signals, could come out a winner in the CBS-Time Warner fight, USA Today reports. The newspaper says that if Time Warner doesn’t resolve its differences with the network, it may recommend that — gasp! — its customers use Aereo to access CBS shows. As Troy Wolverton has written for SiliconBeat, broadcasters have beef with Aereo, which doesn’t pay them anything to transmit their shows to its customers.


Photo of CBS headquarters in New York from Getty Images


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  • sd

    CBS will win this one. Aereo has a tiny regional footprint. TW is already losing customers to cord-cutters; they don’t need to lose the #1 broadcast network and one of the NFL broadcast networks to accelerate that. In addition, after years of telling customers that a la carte pricing is not viable, TW (and Comcast) cannot merely suggest that customers pay (more) for one network because that contradicts their entire argument.

    No, TW will cave. I’m not sure which content provider is going to be the one that tips over the current price model. But TW could have chosen a better time to take a stand than now with CBS.