"Under the Dome" has proven to be a big hit for CBS, and its agreement to sell digital rights of the show to Amazon -- where they are streamed on Prime Instant a few days after they have aired on the network -- has been praised as a deal ahead of its time.
But John Landgraf, the chief executive of FX Networks, sharply criticized the CBS-Amazon partnership at the Hollywood Radio & Television Society annual September luncheon on Tuesday, saying it undercuts the value of the network to pay-TV distributors and represents a "bad change in policy for the larger ecosystem."
It is a rare in the chummy world of Hollywood for one executive to criticize another company and even rarer still to do it in a public forum. But Landgraf, a well-regarded programming executive who has guided the cable channel FX to both critical and commercial success was not shy in raising his concerns about the business model for "Under the Dome."
Landgraf took issue with Amazon being able to stream episodes of "Under the Dome" on its Prime Instant service just days after airing on CBS. That move, he said, makes it understandable why Time Warner Cable would be upset with paying more for the network when its shows are available elsewhere so soon after airing.
"You have to deny it to people who don’t pay that subscription," he said.
FX Networks also sells its shows to digital platforms, but episodes are typically not available until at least a year after their initial airing.
A CBS spokesman countered that "Under the Dome" has been a success on every level. "It’s led to more investment in high-quality programming in the summer, created a top-rated, very profitable programming asset for the company and has further enhanced our year-round competitive position,” the spokesman said.
Follow Joe Flint on Twitter @JBFlint.
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