The Cable Show

by Colin McGuire. 0 Comments

“The Nielsen Co. says about 5 million U.S. households had a TV but didn’t hook it up with a traditional pay TV provider or even an antenna last year. Those households are opting instead for Web video from Netflix and other providers. Nielsen calls these homes ‘Zero TV’ households. Although online viewing generates advertising revenue on services such as Hulu, cable TV providers will lose TV subscription revenues if this group grows in size.”

So it went when The Associated Press’s Ryan Nakashima took to the Associated Press-verse to wax poetic on this week’s “The Cable Show” gathering in, of all places, Fabulous Washington, D.C. The yearly event, thrown together by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, is set to talk about everything from “tools, techniques and technologies for network monitoring and performance,” to, yes, a panel named “Impact Assessment: The Affordable Care Act.” Because, as we all know, mandated health care is just as important to the future of television as, say, the rise of Internet-based streaming services that allow more and more people to completely cut bait with cable packages that give the average consumer 304-times as many channels as they actually need.

Whatever.

Anyway, the event kicked off about two hours ago and will last through Wednesday. Why this blog wasn’t invited to participate in such a life-changing, industry-dissecting meeting of the minds, we’ll never know. What we do know, however, is that this year, there should probably be countless discussions about — you guessed it — the rise of Internet television and the impact it has had on major companies. Yes. Comcast will be there.

The most intriguing nugget from Nakashima’s story came, unsurprisingly, near the bottom. Take it away, R-Man …

“In a saturated market that’s not expanding, the best strategy for cable TV providers is to hold onto its paying customers for as long as possible, says Bruce Leichtman, a TV consultant and head of Leichtman Research Group.”

Let’s rewind that for playback.

“In a saturated market that’s not expanding, the best strategy for cable TV providers is to hold onto its paying customers for as long as possible.”

And do what? Pray? Hope? Yell? Cry? ‘The hell is he talking about?

Hey, suit-and-tie-wearers: You want to know one of the big reasons this cord cutting stuff is becoming more and more accepted? IT’S BECAUSE YOUR IDIOT MINDS ACTUALLY BELIEVE THAT THE BEST COMPETITIVE STRATEGY IS TO HOLD ON TO YOUR CUSTOMERS FOR AS LONG AS POSSIBLE! The capital letters were supposed to illustrate anger.

No, but really — what happened to being proactive? Why wouldn’t you want to develop a strategy that put you ahead of the curve, rather than miles behind it, waiting for a Megabus to pick you up? Why not explore the profitability of Internet tools in relation to your own bogged-down, dated and small-minded product? Why not embrace the inevitability of your entire industry changing its face and develop a model for the future rather than “hope” the past can sustain itself.

Aereo finally made its much-anticipated debut somewhere outside of New York recently (Boston) and the Boston Globe‘s Hiawatha Bray wrote a little bit about it. His response?

“I can see why broadcasters are suing in federal court to shut the company down,” Bray wrote. “The service works so well, it’s scary.”

And yet, the big boys insist on huffing and puffing until they blow web TV’s house down, rather than actually embracing how useful that type of shelter can be. Ignorance. That’s what it boils down to. Well, ignorance and ego. It’s clear that none of the leading cable companies have any interest in worrying about expansion. Maybe if they close their eyes long enough, silly, little peons such as Aereo and Netflix and Ruku and Hulu will just go away, and the world can return to its normal, over-saturated self.

The problem? That’s not going to happen. Again: THAT’S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN (capital letters = disgust). People can criticize the “Arrested Development” reboot all they want. Shoot, they can even dismiss “House of Cards” as nowhere near as great as its original run. That’s fine. I would respectfully disagree, but that’s fine, nonetheless. Why is it fine? Because none of it matters. As in, zero. Zilch. Nada. Nothing. None.

In short, those shows’ acceptance has little to no bearing on the future of the medium as an institution. All Netflix needed was for people to realize that this stuff was happening, period. Gaining a boatload of subscriptions would be nice, of course, but more than our money, these companies need our respect. They got it. The Big Red Machine has become a very viable and trusted vessel for those who have no interest in paying 80 bucks a month for 900 channels they never even consider watching. Was Rome built in one night? Nope. Will “Arrested Development” change the populous’ TV-vewing habits. Of course not. But will be significant in the timeline of the practice’s growth, however, because of how wide its influence spread? Without question.

And that’s why Mr. Leichtman might be better off consulting a doggy daycare business or something. How old, out of touch and elitist does one industry need to seem in order for someone to stand up and tell these guys how moronic they appear? I’ve said it a trillion times, but I’ll say it again now if only for how apt it seems. There were tons of millionaire record executives who were certain they would finally awake from a slumber to realize Napster was insignificant and illegal. Though, as we all now know, by the time they got out of bed, the entire industry’s evolution had expanded so drastically that the model for the business as a whole became impossible to either sustain or comprehend.

Indeed, there will be a lot to talk about in Washington throughout the next three days, friends. Hopefully, there will be someone in attendance who can remind the cable company executives that universal health care isn’t nearly as pressing as some company men (stupidly) once thought.

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