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Pay-TV Channels Enter Potemkin Programming Era

September 28, 2020 | programming | No Comments

By now it’s a foregone conclusion that the cable TV networks that have been Hollywood’s primary profit engine for decades are in a state of secular decline as entertainment conglomerates shift their energies to launching streaming platforms.

But just how this decline is being managed by these businesses while they continue to operate these channels has become painfully clear recently. 

Consider 2020 the beginning of pay TV’s Potemkin era: Programmers’ M.O. is to pull back content resources for cable channels and hope viewers won’t notice or care about the difference.

Just look at Paramount Network, which ViacomCBS disclosed last week is rebranding to reflect new focus on a made-for-TV original movie powerhouse at the expense of airing unscripted programming and long-form scripted series. 

Then there’s NBCUniversal’s once mighty cable portfolio, which The Wall Street Journal exposed last week is living on borrowed time as brands like Syfy and Oxygen

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