There's been some talk of each network serving as the negotiating entity on behalf of affils that elect to hand the task over to their larger partners.
Such shows, by the way, would help promote more "co-viewing"--getting teens and their parents in the same room--and please affils like Tribune, which would then be handed a few more older eyeballs for their 10 p.
The turnout last fall for novelas "Fashion House" and "Desire" on virtually all of MyNet's 175 station affils was shockingly low by broadcast standards.
In broadcast TV, the old rule of thumb for independent stations was to offer something the Big Four network affiliates did not--namely, a generous supply of local news, sports, community-oriented programming and counter-programming of the web affils in primetime with off-network programs and movie telecasts.
Profitability remains a way's off, and there are rumblings that MyNet may seek to adjust in that generous ad time split with affils in the near future.
That led to a distribution frenzy, as MyNet and CW raced to sign up former WB and UPN affils in markets in which neither had secured station deals.
What's more, ex-WB and UPN stations that became MyNet affils have so far seen their fortunes hit hard in primetime, which could have economic consequences (even though MyNet gave stations more local ad time).
Amy says MyNet's strategy of turning over more ad time to affils (tripling local inventory) has offset some ratings losses on Sinclair's affils.
Nets that used to pay stations to carry their shows now ask affils to essentially pay them to help offset the costs of sports rights deals, like the NFL packages owned by CBS and Fox.
But don't break out the Kleenex for affils just yet.
Indeed, a dozen years ago affils wielded considerable clout, buoyed by Fox's surprise strike in enticing stations to abandon the Big Three after it snagged rights to pro football.
Even if networks and affils come to an understanding over iPods and the Web, the playing field is shifting so rapidly it's hard to see them staying on the same page for long.