Why it pays for TV networks to have their own flagship shows

Jessica Morris
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Premiere Of HBO's 'Game Of Thrones' Season 6 - Arrivals
HBO acquired the TV rights to George R. R. Martin's series of fantasy novels (Source: Getty)

Fans are often frustrated by the fact TV network HBO's smash hit series Game of Throne isn't available on rival platforms such as Netflix.

But new research suggests that holding onto exclusivity rights isn't just good for TV operators, it also benefit consumers.

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Other studies suggest when it's possible to extend licenses, the owner of pay TV content would always choose to do this, giving other operators rights to their series or film to meet increasing demand.

But this doesn't explain why so many television networks choose to withhold content, despite so many instances where selling licenses to other channels would increase a show's viewing figures.

New research by Helen Weeds is at the University of Essex found that exclusive premium programming has ‘pulling power’ which attracts subscribers to the owner’s platform, at the expense of rivals.

"This market share advantage is amplified by dynamic effects, generating higher profits in the future. Under some circumstances, this benefit outweighs additional revenues from wider distribution, tipping the balance towards exclusivity," it said.

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The study also found that exclusivity isn't necessarily harmful to consumers either — it actually results in lower prices and provides other benefits like more investment, which can create better quality TV programmes.

However, these benefits must be balanced against the inability of some individuals to access premium content, as well as its influence on their choice of platform.

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