What is the difference between Pay TV and Free TV? What Rights am I giving away when I give Free TV rights?
The definition is in the name itself. Though it is self explanatory, I came across many film professionals who did not understand the difference. A common term in broadcasting parlance, the reasoning behind the classification was largely unknown.
Pay TV refers to television through for-pay subscription based services. Access to a Pay TV channel requires some form of payment for a time limited access to the channel. Such access is controlled by the television platforms i.e. Direct To Home Companies, Cable Networks, IPTV platforms or Internet. These platforms collect subscription fee from the subscriber and pass on a share to the television channel. When content is licensed to any such channel, Pay TV rights come in to play. Pay TV rights cover any paid/subscription and access controlled medium of exhibition to a television set. A broad definition Pay TV will include
- Pay Channel over Satellite/DTH
- Pay Channel over Cable
- Pay Channel over IPTV
- Pay Channel over Internet
- Video on Demand and Pay Per View on any medium
As opposed to Pay TV, Free TV channels are completely FREE TO AIR. These channels can be accessed without directly paying a subscription fee to a broadcaster. For e.g.: A terrestrial television antennae captures the TV signal directly. They do not require a subscription service. Free TV channels make their revenues primarily through selling advertising.
Public broadcasters in most countries are Free to Air services. A FM or AM radio service also Free to Air. Free TV can also include channels, which are delivered by For-Pay television platforms but no subscription fee is expected by the channel. So even though the subscriber may pay a fee to a Cable TV or a Satellite TV provider, a portion of such fee is not passed on to the channel.
Free TV rights can hence include rights for Satellite TV, Cable TV, Terrestrial TV, IPTV, Internet or any other “free to access” medium.