For years there have been networks and affiliates. An affiliate is a local broadcaster that carries some or all of the network's programs. Affiliate stations have contracts with networks, they run a combination of local programming and network programming. Affiliates sell advertising in local and syndicated programs. They also receive limited space to sell in network programming. For example, there are approximately 12 X :30 to sell in the Super Bowl. Affiliates also receive compensation from the network.
Networks have affiliates due to an FCC law that allows a single entity to own TV stations that reach no more than 39% of all US. I don’t know much more about it but I think that is changing with streaming. This is the lightning, thunder and storm ahead.
Traditionally local affiliates negotiate all retransmission with their local cable companies. These local stations actually get paid by cable companies if cable companies use their signal. Right now there is friction between affiliates and networks because when it comes to streaming, the big four networks are doing almost all of the negotiations with virtual cable companies | (VMPD). Examples include HULU live TV, Sling, Fubo, Filo, Youtube Live TV... Networks are also bypassing local affiliates with their own streaming channels like Peacock (NBC), Paramount+ (CBS) and Hulu (ABC). Over the past few years, other nonsensical games are happening like Networks thretning to cut out an hour of prime time. Who knows with the writers & actors strike that may happen.
I am not an expert in network affiliate relations and don't know where this will end beyond the courts or legislation. This is just another example of how streaming has impacted broadcast and cable and how consumers prefer to view.
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Sooner or later most programs, movies and other entertainment will be streamed.