Media Blog

Current TV and Olbermann’s Online-Video Problem

As in, Current TV isn’t allowed to put much of Olbermann’s show online. TV Newser:

Last night on his newly-launched “Countdown” on Current TV, Keith Olbermann took the opportunity to bleed over into the 9 PM hour during an interview with Markos Moulitsas. As The Huffington Post spotted, Olbermann took to Twitter to note that he and MSNBC are now effectively in competition, and keeping viewers on Current for a few extra minutes is fair game, just as having Rachel Maddow on the end of Lawrence O’Donnell‘s show is fair game.

Whether the extra few minutes will make any difference is up to debate. Joe Flint at the LA Times argues that all it will do is piss off viewers.

Those few extra minutes also revealed a potential problem for “Countdown.” Because Current is a small, independently-owned cable channel, the carriage deals it has with cable and satellite distributors are not as forgiving as the larger networks like MSNBC or CNN.

For many viewers, the highlight of night one of “Countdown” may have been the Moulitsas interview, which focused on his banishment from MSNBC, and his fracas with Joe Scarborough. Unfortunately, that interview is not available online, and because the show went over an hour, viewers that DVRed the episode missed the end of the segment.

On Twitter, Olbermann explained that Current’s carriage deals effectively restrict what the network can offer online:

“[S]adly this is the cable carriers’ doings. They can restrict how much we younger nets put online,” Olbermann tweeted, adding “Online replays: young cable networks like ours are hamstrung by your cable carriers about how much we can put on web. Need you to yell at ‘em”

Um, no. Current TV entered into these agreements with cable companies of their own free will. And now Olbermann expects cable companies to not only pay Current TV to air his show, but then let Current give away the best parts of the show for free? Not likely.

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