The king is dead. Long live the king.
The king is dead
Americans have always loved TV. Since it’s introduction, TV has been our primary, our first screen, the center of our homes. But, TV’s centrality is fading.
The duopoly of media conglomerates — Disney, Comcast/NBC, Time Warner, CBS Corp, Viacom, and News Corp. — and pay TV companies have long enjoyed a cozy relationship sharing ever-increasing subscription fees from captive customers.
Media conglomerates have steadily created more and more channels — of dubious appeal — and charged more and more for the right to broadcast them. Cable companies then turned around and raised subscriber rates to pay for the programming.
There was always an abstract, intangible fear that there was a limit to how much cable subscribers would pay. The industry fretted about the mythical “cord-cutter.” But, it was just a theory. Cable companies slowly added subscribers. Cable companies raised their rates. It worked and the duopoly got paid. Until, it didn’t. The cord-cutters — or worse, the cord-nevers — finally appeared.
Long live the king
The increasing cost of pay TV is certainly turning many would-be subscribers away. But, that’s a near-term headache for the industry. The more frightening and existential challenge for the industry isn’t the increasing cost of the service, it’s the declining appeal of TV.
Ceding affection and engagement, especially with valuable younger customers, to the new king: Mobile.
Smartphones are ultra-personal, ultra-portable, do-anything, do-anywhere supercomputers in our pockets and purses. Communication, entertainment, games, productivity, shopping, payment. Everything. Within easy grasp.
Sure, 60-inch TVs, dedicated game consoles, power-packed PCs all are better at what they do. Now. They won’t disappear anytime soon. But today, smartphones are more than good enough. They more than make up for their deficiencies with its unrivaled convenience.
Smartphones are literally the first device we reach for in the morning. The last device we touch at night. And the first option throughout the day. Increasingly, we’d rather leave our homes without our keys and wallets than our smartphones. We love our smartphones. They’ve become central, primary and essential. In comparison, cable TV is becoming a quaint luxury.
If you want to reach, sell to, engage customers in the future, it is mobile first and foremost. Everything else complements it.
Wireless at the core
If cable companies believe there is comfort with the idea of selling broadband internet to customers instead of TV service, they may be deluding themselves.
Imagine if your primary, favorite, and most essential device didn’t need wired broadband service to work. It’s a “wireless” device after all. Yes, today, wireless providers aren’t offering the same service as wired broadband. But, that likely won’t be true for long. In the future world of copious wireless broadband, what is wired broadband? And what of the cable industry then?
Long live the king.