The Windmills of My Immediate Mind
Media Business Strategies – David Polakoff
“I’ve Been (TV) Everywhere”
Content, Time, Tech and Money Redefine “Bundle”
Boston, Charleston, Dayton, Louisiana, and including Winnemucca, Johnny Cash visited 91 places in “I’ve Been Everywhere.” What remains a secret is how Johnny found the time and the money to accomplish all the sightseeing. It wouldn’t sound as poetic, but I can now substitute Johnny Cash’s lyrics with the names of today’s on-demand, streaming and standalone, a la carte programming services. There isn’t the time nor the money to fully consume the cavalcade of original programming. In the new television world, we’re not going to access and pay for it all – and be just fine with that.
Roku, Netflix, Amazon Prime, SlingTV, Sony Playstation Vue, Apple TV, HBO Now, CBS All Access, Showtime, Hulu, Vessel, NBC Comedy, Nickelodeon Noggin, YouTube TBD SVOD service, Curiosity Stream, and Verizon TBD streaming would comprise the lyrics for the tongue-in-cheek take on Johnny Cash. This doesn’t even factor free, ad supported content options such as Yahoo Live, Yahoo Screen, YouTube, Vimeo, or the AOL On Network. Nor does it factor streaming and subscription music services, such as Apple’s Beats/itunes Radio, SiriusXM, rdio, Pandora, Spotify, and Tidal. Nor does it factor The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, and the weekly and monthly magazines subscriptions. Time and money will define the new Enough TV Everywhere bundle.
Focusing on the traditional and digital video content, here are predictions:
Original programming investment increases as programmers attract cable, satellite, SVOD streaming, standalone subscription subscribers and jockey to be the “must have” service in SlingTV and AppleTV type packages. Despite on-demand viewing habits, scheduled programming still best facilitates discovery. With a programmer’s subscribers likely decreasing and original programming costs increasing, programming budget pressures shake-up channels’ 24/7 program scheduling.
Reliance on live sports and longtime customer inertia for continued cable/satellite subscriptions will be challenged as consumers measure actual value vs. cost, and gain exposure to new alternatives. Increasing numbers of cord shavers and cord nevers, threaten the high penetration of the existing customer base. As programmers’ contracts expire, cable/satellite providers will drop fringe channels and adjust tiers and packages to retain and attract subscribers. Failure to change the user interface will also drive frustrated subscribers to more user-friendly options. Cable/satellite will remain the most expensive offering but the most efficient one-stop shop.
Not every programmer will be included in each of the SlingTV or Sony Playstation Vue style package so cord cutters, nevers, and shavers will purchase on-demand, SVOD, and a la carte packages in the “new bundle,” combinations and mixes that approach their strongest demand/desire, while sacrificing certain channel programming, all to keep monthly costs in perspective. There will be ample community around the accessed programming to satisfy “water cooler talk” needs. Awaiting content premieres in a second window viewing opportunity (e.g., Netflix or Amazon) will play a role in the balance of program access, economics, and available viewing time. There may be periodic consumer churn as a “must see” program withers and rises amongst programmers. Programmers won’t like the churn but be happy with maintaining a zero sum subscriber base.
SlingTV and AppleTV type services will struggle to optimize the mix and quantity of offered channels while maintaining a competitive price point.
Dropped, fringe cable channels migrate their content and audiences to ad supported web/mobile publishers, delighting advertisers who cherish the targetable and loyal viewers of this special interest (niche) programming. Consumers’ increasing consumption of content on YouTube, DailyMotion, Facebook, Vevo, and niche publishers (Tastemade, Pop Sugar, Vice, Everyday Health) will challenge the utility, satisfaction, and justification for cable/satellite mega packages, instigating cord shaving to slimmed down options or total cord cutting, with SlingTV style and Netflix subscriptions satisfying critical programing desires.
Cable/satellite programmers face classic market forces and don’t have until “the end of the Boomer and Gen X” era to hold on to the longstanding model, lest they become the next Kodak. As consumers sample and experience new content via new technology via new pricing options, they will adopt and adapt ever faster, as we’ve seen with every form of media consumption since the tipping point of the music industry, followed by the print industry. As Johnny Cash sang, “I’ve breathed the mountain air, man. Of travel I’ve had my share, man. I’ve been everywhere.” Consumers are breathing the mountain air, feeling good about it, and re-writing “I’ve Been (TV) Everywhere.”
Media Business Strategies is the blog/website of David Polakoff, a New York based, Media & Entertainment Industry Financial Executive.
David Polakoff’s media/entertainment industry experience and expertise results from his tenures in senior financial and development roles with: Ernst & Young, HBO/Time Warner, ITV Studios/itv plc, independent consulting, and multi-channel network, Iconic Entertainment, Inc. Currently, David provides financial, operational, and strategic services to media/entertainment companies. Read more in About.