Some call it "network flow," but I've also heard it referred to as the "network effect." It's how programmers monetize their expensive hits. After all, what incentive does ESPN have for paying the NFL $1.9 billion a season for TV rights if it can't ubiquitously brand its coverage and drive viewership to other programming?
To hear executives at America's No. 4 and No. 10 cable companies explain it, television is a dead business. "The video subscription model is broken and cannot be fixed," read one presentation slide from Cable One. I agree with the first part. But I'm not sure about that second part.
In sports, some fans will adamantly deny the facts that are right in front of them. The same dynamic, I suspect, is at play when many of us ponder pay-TV subscriber losses, and still wonder if wholesale cord-cutting by U.S. consumers will soon get underway. There shouldn't be any debate that radical change in the way U.S. consumers watch television is already occurring.
From all of the staff at FierceCable, we want to wish you a happy and safe Memorial Day holiday. In observance of the holiday, we will not be publishing on Monday, but we'll back in your inbox on Tuesday morning.
I was sitting with a Suddenlink executive in the press room at INTX in Chicago two weeks back. I had just covered the "Captains o' Cable Industry" keynote, during which Cablevision's James Dolan notoriously proposed corporate marriage to Time Warner Cable's Rob Marcus right on stage as Charter's Tom Rutledge and several other CEOs looked on in horror.
Last week, platforms like mine breathlessly reported that Charter's Tom Rutledge and Time Warner Cable's Rob Marcus were going to get together this week to talk merger. As they sat right next to each other on an INTX general session panel here Wednesday morning, it became quite clear that cable's still-pending wave of consolidation is more complicated than when Charter buys TWC and how much it pays for it.
Here at the INTX trade show, there is a lot of noise about the "user experience." Cable operators, technology vendors and others are desperate to make it easier for users to find and watch content. But the continued push for a better, faster UI seems misplaced at a time when YouTube is now the most watched television "channel" among 15- to 24-year-olds in Sweden and Netflix is streaming the best superhero TV show I've ever seen (Daredevil).
Back at the height of the cable boom in the 1980s, the NCTA's Barbara York tells me, the erstwhile Cable Show would draw 30,000 attendees. Next week, as the organization convenes its signature trade show in Chicago under a new name, INTX, and a broadened agenda, producers are expecting a third of that attendance level. But 10,000 still isn't bad.
The merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable was going to set off a chain reaction of consolidation, when it finally got approved. Now, with the federal government's rejection of the deal, a whole new kind of reaction has been set off.