Broadcasting competition of distribution agreements has been in the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) cross-hairs. While under less than unusual circumstances a provider can enter into a contract to distribute its product exclusively or non-exclusively, the same cannot be said regarding agreements of communications content provider. The concerns is with content that could draw an overwhelming amount of viewer traffic overshadowing the viewership of other broadcasters. This is coming around as noteworthy as two major networks vie for broadcast rights for Thursday night football. Hence, causing the FCC to do a double take with its anti-competition radar, so-to-speak.
The impetus is to stimulate competition as claimed but it appears that it may be more so to protect wider access to broadcast content. This transpired when the FCC was forcing cable providers to provide access to competitors who were regional sports networks, essentially ending exclusive arrangements. The desire to minimize the effects of exclusive broadcasting deals may be too far intrusive and can jeopardize the salient value of the product and the factors that embed its quality and public attraction.
As we see in the Internet and in the mobile world, mobile providers are seeking to connect exclusively with content providers, i.e., Netflix, hence the deal between distributors and content providers. Anyone with an antitrust scoping eye can smell the anticompetitive setting. The content providers could be pushed aside in the market place by the sheer use of the existing market power of certain providers and create market segmentation. A deeper view will reveal that what appears as an exclusive arrangement among two broadcasters is a wider sphere including a select number essentially carving out rights for distribution.
At the end of the day, consumers are constantly demanding the product that draws the distribution of content to the forefront of broadcasting that highly desired content, regardless if it’s from a social media platform or the a national sports league. The consumers could stand to benefit regardless as long as there remains a variety of content to choose from as well as a variety of distribution sources. The exclusive distribution deals, while enhancing reliability in delivery of programming, quality, and over all access in the market place, could as well cause market carve ups which will not be to the liking of millions desiring access.