Will Netflix Just Buy A TV Channel?

Logo for Walter PresentsWalter Iuzzolino, who once left his job so he could watch television full time, recently said, “I think some TV channels will literally become joint ventures with the giant streamers, and Netflix will buy channels.” The occasion was the release of the annual Nostradamus Report (pdf), which was summarized yesterday by Jenny Priestley at TV Technology.

The report, published by the Göteburg Film Festival, “aims to sketch out the future of the screen industries 3–5 years from now” by interviewing several industry experts. One of them is Iuzzolino, who now curates Walter Presents, a service offering dramas from around the world.

Comparing the online world with terrestrial, linear TV, Iuzzolino said, “We are in the middle of a terrible war, and then there will be a marriage. In five years I genuinely think that the integration of streaming and TV will have been, if not completed, then 75 % advanced. There’s probably a period of adjustment of the next 5–7 years where that terrestrial audience declines and disappears.”

Picking on Netflix, possibly as an example, he said the company was great at expanding its subscriber base but still could use a way “to shape the national conversation. [For that] you [still] need the billboard, a national terrestrial channel, which on a Wednesday night shows you this, on a Thursday night shows you that.” There’s so much more from Iuzzolino and others, so you really ought to go read the PDF.

Personally, I think the natural vehicle for something just like this is Hulu. It’s already mostly owned by three channels, soon to be two if Fox sells its stake to Disney. It’s already offering a live package to go along with its streaming TV library. Although its short-term losses appear to be growing rapidly, it’s got enough name recognition and momentum to be a serious contender. I hope its owners continue to see free TV as a complementary, as well as complimentary, service.