Tag Archives: cable

Shredding The Cord



Ah, my once-beloved Dish Network account – the thing I once thought I could never do without; the budget monster that consumed $100 per month, month after month, year after year. I agonized for months over the idea of simply killing it before finally pulling the plug.

It’s been the better part of a year since I put the budget-busting beast to rest and cancelled the account. Dish Network itself seemed to want to throw up as many roadblocks as possible to get me to change my mind. They wanted the LNB module off of my roof, in addition to the two receivers. I had 30 days to send the units back in the packing boxes they sent or they would make me pay full price for them.

I was able to talk the guy out of forcing me to climb up on my roof to retrieve the LNB, and I was able to get the two receivers sent back to them within the 30 days of cancellation. However, somehow they had in their billing system I had three receivers, not two. They sent return packaging for three units. I spent time on the phone with them to make sure this discrepancy was resolved, and they assured me it was.

Ooops, not so fast! A month or two later I got a letter from them stating I still owed them for a receiver and they intended to hit my bank account for the amount. A phone call to them resolved the issue and I haven’t heard a peep from them since.

How has life been without all of those channels? $ome part of me hate$ to admit it, but I haven’t missed it at all. I’ve got an Intel Mac Mini set up as a DVR for local over-the-air HD broadcasts, as well as a Netflix account and several other Internet-connected set top box viewing solutions.

Observations

A very large percentage of TV programming is marketing presented as content. Much of what passes for entertainment depicts multitudes of dysfunctional drama queens assaulting and insulting the people around them. The more dysfunctional they are, the more likely it is the marketing messages will seep into the mesmerized minds of the audience. Even if one isn’t watching commercials, product placement and even behavior placement abounds. Viewers are being programmed to buy certain products, as well as behave in certain ways.

Think you can’t do without cable or satellite TV? Think again. I was paying $1,200 dollars a year for Dish Network. Multiply that by just 5 years and that’s a whopping $6,000 dollars for the privilege of being shaped and influenced by marketing messages so I would spend even more money.

Let’s go one step further. For many people TV is an addiction. These people are crack dealers in disguise. How else could it be that they can continue to raise their prices and people continue to pay ever more?

Let’s be honest. The vast majority of cable TV programming is less than worthless. Could that $6,000 dollars been better spent on higher-quality programming? Of course it could.


Unplugging Cable/Satellite – Not Quite Yet



I know many of us keep discussing unplugging cable/satellite and going with set-top boxes and Internet programming instead.  An article on Mashable by Christina Warren explains pretty well why most video media consumers won’t be switching from cable and satellite anytime soon.

The fact is, moving from passive pay television, where you can easily channel-surf your way through the lineup (or use the guide with the touch of a button), to a more active style of not only finding content, but viewing content, is just not going to happen for most people.  While the Boxee, Roku, AppleTV, and other devices enter the market, the ease of use hasn’t caught up.  Regular television provides an easy-to-access method for figuring out what you want to watch, and the rise of the DVR means you can also record what you don’t have time to watch at that moment.  There is very little physical or mental encumbrance in using passive television to fulfill a need for entertainment.

Ms. Warren goes on to point out that if set-top boxes are going to be a replacement for cable and satellite, then they need to actually provide what people are not only used to, but what they want.  No one wants to spend ten minutes picking through a menu to find what they want to watch.  They want to turn it on, flip through a few channels, and be ready to watch.  Most users of DVR’s are doing the same thing, albeit with recorded shows:  bring up the guide, pick what you recorded, push play.  There is instant playback, instant access.

The other piece of the puzzle is live television.  Live news, live sports events, breaking weather, all of these things are not being accommodated in the set-top box space.  They can’t be, by definition.  I just lived through three days of gloom and doom regarding a Midwest blizzard, and believe me, that live connection to information was critical in determining if we were going to make it to work, doctor’s appointments, etc., and also helped us decide if we needed to take extra emergency precautions to keep our homes and families safe.  I could have never gotten that information from my AppleTV.

When solutions can be found to these issues, and set-top boxes can act more like passive television viewing, we might just see more adoption in the market.  But as it stands, I don’t see anyone giving up cable/satellite for set-top boxes anytime soon.


The Best; Then There’s The Rest



One of the classic methods of marketing centers around the idea of bundling; i.e. getting people to pay for lower-quality merchandise by pushing sheer quantity over quality. This strategy isn’t always successful, but when it works it can work brilliantly.

When I was a teenager growing up in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, music was sold via vinyl records. The “hit” songs were played on the radio, thus creating artist familiarity and product demand. Radio stations of the day would sometimes play the “B” side of the record but most often they only played the “hits.” In other words, they weren’t playing the “misses” on the radio.

In a stroke of marketing genius, however, someone somewhere got the idea to bundle the musical misses and missteps on the “B” side of the vinyl records. When 33-RPM records came along, this trend was amplified because there was more room than ever. Make consumers think they were buying not only the artist’s latest hits, but throw that filler material in there too. Sometimes with certain artists the filler material could be brilliant too. However, most of the time it was just filler material.

This strategy mostly worked until digital recording and playback techniques, combined with the Internet, caused massive changes in the way people manufactured, discovered, marketed, and purchased music. For a variety of reasons, today people tend to only want to buy what they consider to be the very best “hits” from services such as iTunes, and there’s little to no market for the “filler” misses.

The same marketing concept has been used via bundling to get people to pay for “filler” cable TV channels. Want a “good” channel such as Discovery, TLC, or History? Sorry sir, that sandwich only comes with pickles, mustard and horse radish – take it or leave it.

What consumers often fail to realize is that substantial portions of their cable TV and/or satellite bills are paid directly to bundled channel providers that they probably never watch. Bundled mediocrity gets rewarded.

Why are you mindlessly paying good money for bundled channels you probably don’t know the names of? Stop rewarding bundled mediocrity. Turn off your cable or satellite subscription. I promise you – your heart won’t suddenly stop beating. The world won’t suddenly come to an end.


GNC-2010-11-22 #629 Headed Home



I have had a very productive trip here in Albuquerque but I am more than ready to head home. Lots of work to do in the studio and not a lot of time to do it. PLus my honey do list is a mile long. I expect to do a Saturday Morning Tech Show if the Studio is ready. Sunday we announce the Slate for 2010 Podcast Awards so it has to be ready. :) Have a great Thanks Giving and be Safe.

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GNC-2010-11-04 #624 In the Groove!



Getting in the Groove here with the show, have worked out all the bugs, the new tricaster arrives on Saturday so obviously excited about that for a myriad of reasons. I get scolded at the end of the show so you have that to enjoy :). All is well and on track. Podcast Awards nominations start on November 7th be ready to nominate your favorite shows. Lot’s of great links from the Ohana, Thanks

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OTT And Paid Content



OTT, short for “over-the-top-television” is an up-and-coming acronym that we are all likely going to become familiar with in the near future, provided someone doesn’t come up with a different marketing name. The concept is simple – it’s TV that comes “over the top” of traditional channels on a cable system via the Internet delivered in digital packets. It can either be live streaming video, on-demand streaming video, or in the form of a pre-recorded on-demand podcast.

There are many aspects of over-the-top TV that have yet to be shaken out. Specifically, here in the early stages there are some still-murky areas when it comes to details of how advertising is going to work.

Things that we know about how OTT works successfully so far:

People are willing to pay for bundled on-demand professionally created OTT content in the form of Netflix on-demand streaming of movies, TV shows, and other content. The bundled Netflix price for all-you-can-eat on-demand streaming OTT offers the consumer a real value. In most cases, a great deal of marketing money and effort has been spent promoting the majority of individual movies and other content that are available on Netflix, so the consumer has a fairly high degree of familiarity with much of the on-demand streaming content they offer. These are essentially repurposed movies that are already on the shelf.

People are willing to watch on-demand streaming OTT of professionally-created content with embedded ads as demonstrated by the ongoing success of Hulu.Com. The consumer is likely already familiar with a portion of the content, but Hulu also allows the consumer to discover and explore previously unknown TV show content in an on-demand stream with embedded ads. These are essentially repurposed TV shows, some movies, and other content.

Live streaming OTT of live content is still catching on. The most successful live OTT content as typified by what Leo Laporte and company are generating still offers an on-demand podcast version that can be downloaded later. Currently, on-demand, after-the-fact podcast versions of live OTT generated content end up with many more downloads than people watching via live streams. Both live streaming OTT and the on-demand podcast versions can contain ads. For the ads to be effective in this format, they need to be relevant to the audience’s needs and desires. The old “shotgun” advertising approach does not work in this format. This specific type of content is closely associated with word-of-mouth promotion.

There are a few questions that remain to be answered. Will consumers pay for on-demand streaming of TV drama-type content they are unfamiliar with — in other words, will consumers pay to watch an on-demand stream of a new TV show drama, documentary or reality show? Using myself as a gage, I wouldn’t pay for individual on-demand episodes of a TV show or movie I wasn’t fairly familiar with. Promotion and word-of-mouth still has to take place.

If consumers will pay-per-view for an unfamiliar on-demand TV show, can the content still contain ads? I think the answer to this depends on the content and its perceived value – i.e., how well it is promoted, and the resulting perceived value that is generated in the potential consumer.

Once “Lost” was a hit TV show, would the fanatic fans have paid for on-demand streams of new episodes? Probably they would have, if they could have gotten them, say a week or so in advance of the actual broadcasts. “Lost” fans would have also put up with ads in the advance on-demand stream. They might have grumbled about it, but if that were the only way it was available in advance, many of them would have opened-up their wallets and paid the price monetarily and with their attention to the embedded ads in order to satisfy their “Lost” habit. Clearly, the producers of “Lost” – ahem – “lost out” on a time-sensitive revenue stream opportunity.

Bottom line, I believe it all revolves around the content and the real and perceived values that the content delivers.

I liked last season’s remake of the old “V” television series. If I could be assured the production values remained just as high, I might pay to subscribe in some manner. If the “V” series is picked up again by ABC next season, I would also pay to subscribe if I could get episodes via on-demand streaming before they were broadcast.

In the meantime, we are still dealing with the death-throws of the old broadcast model with its old appointment based viewing schedule combined with the old shotgun advertising approach. ABC broadcast TV affiliates would have had a cow if “Lost” episodes had been made available as a paid on-demand OTT stream before the episodes were actually broadcast via the network.

The final destination of OTT and when it ends up at that destination depends on what is right for the time. Both delivery infrastructure capabilities and consumer demand will make that determination.


GNC-2010-03-25 #562 Amazing Week!



When it rains it pours someone has opened up the flood gate and I have been inundated with request for proposals from companies wanting to do advertising deals. So I have been burning the midnight oil and will likely pull some 18 hour days over the weekend to get everything pushed out. One more show here in Texas before I head back to Honolulu.

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