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IN PERSPECTIVE - Double Jeopardy

Sun, 02/28/2010 - 7:30pm
Brian Santo, Editor-in-Chief

If the Comcast-NBC deal falls through, Brian Roberts can thank Walt Disney

Brian SantoRemember when “Walt Disney” wasn’t just a corporate logo, but an actual, graying avuncular fellow who every Sunday night introduced you to beautiful princesses and coonskin-capped frontiersmen and impetuous fairies?

Look, nobody succeeds like Walt did without being a hard-ass from time to time, but the guy built a brand on good-natured entertainment, and he nurtured that brand. Remember “Bambi”? Remember “Mary Poppins”?

Well screw that. Walt’s company is now about nothing but hardball. I’m writing this during the Oscar telecast that Cablevision subscribers barely got to see, minus the first 15 minutes or so, thanks to a last-minute agreement between Cablevision and ABC.

In fact, at this very moment, Miley Cyrus – a Disney product if ever there was one – is presenting an award, so maybe Disney was trying to do Cablevision subs a favor. … Nahhh. That Disney turned Miley Cyrus into a star just means that Disney sucks double.

Disney decided to send a message to the pay-TV industry: Pay us for what you’ve never had to pay for before. Pay us for carrying our service, which has until now actually helped us expand the audience for our ads. Pay us for what everyone gets for free. Pay us another 20 percent beyond what you’re already paying us. We can do this in one of the biggest markets in the country. We can do it to you. Pay us.

There will be a backlash. The problem is that people still have the warm fuzzies for Disney, and everybody hates the cable company. Disney appealed directly to consumers, and there are enough people out there dumb enough to fall prey to the propaganda. Yep, the actual backlash will invariably be not against Disney, but against Cablevision.

And I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts that if anybody gets upset at Disney, they’re not going to punish Disney in any way. Instead, they are going to wonder, “If Disney can get away with that crap, what’s going to stop Comcast from doing likewise after it buys NBC?”

Good luck answering that one, Brian Roberts.

E-Mail: brian.santo@advantagemedia.com

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