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How Does TCM Do It?


Stephan55
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Hi,

Although I?ve been a fan of TCM for several years now, I?m new to this forum.

 

It amazes me that TCM is able to show its features commercial free. It?s what distinguishes it from all other commercial sites. There are only a handful of stations that I routinely watch, and of them only TCM and PBS are commercial free in their programming.

 

I see that PBS receives its revenue from grants and contributions, but *how does TCM do it?*

 

However they do, I am very grateful and appreciative, and I certainly do not want to look a gift horse to closely in the mouth, but if someone could briefly explain to me how day after day, this wonderful station is able to consistently deliver unique commercial free presentations I would be relieved of this curiosity.

 

I am thankful to anyone who takes the time to reply to this query.

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They do it by charging cable and satelite companies extra for their service. And that cost is passed along to us consumers who have to pay extra to receive TCM. I think it works the same way with HBO and the IFC channel.

 

Unfortunately, we have to pay about $40 dollars for basic cable and satellite services, which means we receive about 150 junk channels that we don't watch. Then we have to pay about $10 to $20 extra for "second tier" or "third tier" packages so we can receive TCM.

 

I would prefer to spend just the $10 or $20 and just receive TCM only.

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Hello Stephan.

TCM, like all cable channels, receives a portion of the monthly fee charged by your local cable or satellite provider. TCM is seen in 70 million households in the US. So, at even just 50 cents a household/subscriber (Just a guess. No one seems to know what TCM amount actually recieves perhousehold), that would equal about 35 million dollars each month in operating revenue.

 

That amount of money can go a long way when a channel isn't producing "new" or original programming. And "classic" films are much less expensive to lease for showing on television than new releases. So it is still possible for TCM to operate "in the black" without the revenue from selling commercial time on the network.

 

I hope this gives you some idea of how the TCM business model works.

 

And welcome to the community. I hope you hang around here and join in on other conversations.

 

Kyle In Hollywood

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Thank you folks for the reply.

I understand now.

I guess I never thought of TCM in the same genre as other premium channels.

I used to watch AMC but got annoyed at all of the commercial interruptions along with the edited format. So many cable channels still have commercials within their programing, including another favorite of mine: The history channel. The only channels that didn't seem to do that were those premium channels like HBO, Starz, etc. So I thought of TCM as a rather unique channel in that its programming is both uncut, and commercial free, and still included in an "expanded basic" package.

I do understand that TCM rarely invests in new product, with the exception of it's specials, so I can see how their overhead would be less. But now I wonder why other channels that do not produce their own material (i.e. AMC) rely so heavily on commercials that disrupt viewing their programs?

I guess the answer, for AMC anyway, might be that it has to pay more to lease more recent product for viewing, so it rationalizes the commercials to offset the additional cost and still keep it out of the "premium" channel category. But then some of those "premium" channels frequently show older product as filler, so go figure.

 

I wish that it were possible to just pick and pay for the individual channels that one does enjoy, instead of being "forced" to buy a plethora of "junk" filler stations in an otherwise unwanted package just to get that choice handful.

But then I wish that gasoline was back to a dollar a gallon again...

Or, better yet, that we had a truly alternate transportable fuel and conveyance system in place so that we no longer have to rely upon petroleum to get around...

Not exactly sure of how that analogy relates but it came to mind while I was in a wishing for "better" things mode.

 

Anyway, thank you all for your kind replies, and warm welcome to the forum.

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You are quite right, of course.

That was why I amended the statement with: "Or, better yet, that we had a truly alternate transportable fuel and conveyance system in place so that we no longer have to rely upon petroleum to get around..."

 

It probably wouldn't relieve the traffic congestion, but if we could get off of the petroleum wagon as a transportable fuel, and replace it with renewable, environmentally friendly integrated systems such as hydrogen electric fuel cells with the H2 derived from water and the mass harvesting of wind, solar, geothermal, and tidal driven sources, then we could return to the less expensive and domestically produced energy that made America the inspirational economic powerhouse it grew to become during the last century. The jobs to produce and sustain these systems would not be outsourced. The local and regional economies would be stimulated. The price of this electric energy would become cheaper as these systems became more fully implemented. We would no longer be part of the problem, but rather the solution to the problem we have created. We could freely export these energy technologies where ever they are applicable to help liberate the rest of the world from fossil fuels. Plentiful, ecco friendly energy would be a blessing to all national economys, allowing a focus on the other disharmonizing issues that plague mankind. Our enemies would no longer profit from our current petroleum addiction. The manmade portion of the greenhouse gas burden upon the environment will be decreased. The only persons that would be unhappy about it are those which too greatly profit from our addiction to the current system, and I don't mind disappointing those folks for the benefit of the rest of us.

Unfortunetly, urbania would still be congested with the non-polluting traffic of quietly humming electric driven conveyances. But then, we could work on that problem with similarly powered public transport systems. All we have to do is change the current mindset and be willing to invest our national debt into things that will make the world a better place for our progeny, rather than enslaving them with a debt burden that yields them nothing but the burden.

And who knows, maybe even the cost of cable programing would go down???

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Hello 'Stephan55' (are you dating yourself now? ) -

 

*"But now I wonder why other channels that do not produce their own material (i.e. AMC) rely so heavily on commercials that disrupt viewing their programs?"*

 

Because as a method of raising revenue, selling advertising is a very easy route to take - especially when the "penetration of your channel" (the number of households receiving your channel) has "plateau-ed". As a business, a cable channel still needs to increase revenue each year and not just operate within its projected budget. Investors/Shareholders expect a growing profit stream. Thankfully, TCM is working to add revenue by "any means necessary" short of adding commercials to the channel. They understand that being "commercial-free" is what makes the channel unique and is a major reason it has cultivated such a loyal audience.

 

You might have noticed that the channel promotes this website ALOT lately. (The new on-screen "tcm.com" logo, for example.) "Exploiting" the traffic of this website to advertisers is one method of increasing revenue for the channel. Same goes for the sale of DVDs, etc. through the arrangement with "Movies Unlimited". And I am sure there will be other "subtle" methods yet to come. But I want to believe that traditional "commercials" will be the last resort.

 

Once a channel enters into the "audience delivery" business (programming to attract an audience for selling to advertisers), the advertiser's desires take precedence over those of the audience. (This is why networks now program to attract twenty-year-olds and not forty-year-olds) Programming becomes all about "eyeballs" that can see an advertisement - the more eyeballs, the more a channel can charge for those advertisements. It becomes a downward spiral of what will deliver more eyeballs and not what is the most interesting programming.

 

The current head of Turner Entertainment has stated he couldn't make TCM a multi-billion dollar operation if he tried - and he has no intention of doing so. But he is concerned (as he should be) with the long-term viability of the channel. See this recent article in an Atlanta weekly for a "backstage" look at TCM.

http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/gyrobase/the_moviegoer/Content?oid=416029

 

and the discussion that took place in this thread -

http://forums.tcm.com/jive/tcm/click.jspa?searchID=184294&messageID=8056115

 

*"I wish that it were possible to just pick and pay for the individual channels that one does enjoy, instead of being "forced" to buy a plethora of "junk" filler stations in an otherwise unwanted package just to get that choice handful."*

 

This subject has come up in these Forums before. One of the better threads can be found here -

http://forums.tcm.com/jive/tcm/thread.jspa?threadID=117503&start=60&tstart=120&messageID=8016880#8016880

 

and includes a "rebuttal" of sorts that I wrote (with the help of the NYTimes) on the idea of "a la carte" cable pricing and its potential affect on channels such TCM.

 

In the meantime, keep the faith that TCM as we now know it is gonna be around for awhile.

 

Kyle In Hollywood

 

Message was edited by: hlywdkjk because Iinserted a paragraph in the wrong spot.

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You are quite right, of course.

That was why I amended the statement with: "Or, better yet, that we had a truly alternate transportable fuel and conveyance system in place so that we no longer have to rely upon petroleum to get around..."

 

Thank you, Stephan. This leads just as certainly into a discussion of John McCain's proposed federal gas-tax "holiday." It is, of course, a bit of naked pandering to the electorate's perceived (and I do mean that, with all the subjectivity it implies) short-term financial interests. The truth about the price of gas is that the current rise is not being driven by supply-and-demand market forces surrounding refined petroleum (as is usually the case), but by the relentless upward pressure on crude oil prices created by speculators who buy oil "futures" as a hedge against now-shakier investments like the slumping stock market, real estate values, and the whole economy in general, and is also the cause of other commodities, like gold and platinum, being sent to record high prices.

 

Were the federal gas tax to be temporarily rescinded (which would save the average motorist all of about $2.75 per 15-gallon fill-up, or about $143 a year, at an average of one fill-up per week), it would encourage people to drive more. Apart from the extra greenhouse gases that would produce, it would then create the precise supply-and-demand effect that is currently not a factor, on top of the rise in prices created by the price of crude oil. As a consequence, the price of gas would begin to rise even faster, nullifying any benefit to the consumer from the federal gas-tax rollback. Moreover, instead of that money being paid in taxes that go right into the federal highway fund, from whose building and maintenance of roads all taxpayers benefit, the extra money motorists pay will instead go into the coffers of the oil companies. Those companies' executives and stockholders (I among them) will benefit, but no one else.

 

McCain's proposal is nothing more than a cheap, dirty and despicable trick to buy votes from people too lazy to look at the facts, who will gladly sell the family cow for a handful of magic beans.

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