Friday, January 21, 2011, 10:25 AM ET|Posted by Will Richmond(Friday update #3) The was a flutter of excitement this week by some who interpreted a new deal by WealthTV to make its 24/7 linear feed available to Roku users as evidence of an a la carte future. But that hope would be misplaced; WealthTV, a network with minimal pay-TV carriage (though a litany of regulatory appeals), bears no resemblance to widely distributed cable networks like USA, MTV and Discovery whose lifeblood is monthly pay-TV carriage fees.
Even though WealthTV's proposed $2.99/mo subscription fee is more than any of these networks receive, WealthTV's retail model means its subscriber penetration will be a tiny fraction of these cable nets, and that's after necessarily heavy marketing and promotion. Don't get me wrong, Roku and other connected devices are doing a fabulous job of bringing online content to TVs. But getting top-notch, current cable programs is nowhere on the horizon. This is doubly true given that this week's FCC approval of Comcast-NBCU was an explicit blessing of the cable model.