Why You May Not Want to Cut that Cable / Satellite TV Cord…Yet
A while back, I shared my thoughts on why television isn’t as dead as many digital evangelists and online content providers wish us to believe. For all the talk of cord cutting, it’s been largely that – talk.
NBC has the broadcast rights to this summer’s Olympic Games and plans to offer extensive coverage across its portfolio of broadcast and cable properties. This year, they also plan extensive live coverage of events via streaming. The only requirement is that you subscribe to a cable or satellite TV service. As the advertising community increasingly views television and online video content as complementary rather than as competing entities, arrangements like this will increasingly be the rule rather than the exception. Fox in particular has apparently been aggressive in limiting its online content to cable and satellite subscribers. Broadcasters and cable operators both have a vested interest in maintaining subscribers and for now, controlling the content in this way may be the answer. It definitely has many advantages for both NBC and cable/satellite distributors.
Online and offline are NOT natural enemies
The proliferation of laptop computers and tablet devices have made it easier and more commonplace to watch TV while going online. As ESPN has discovered via ESPN3 and SPEED has discovered via SPEED2, putting an event online doesn’t kill your online revenue stream and can even expand both. In my real life, I watch ESPN3 frequently as I’m a fan of a class of sports car racing that is mostly available on that platform. It’s not the ideal situation, but if I want to watch the race live rather than on a 90 minute “highlight reel” the following day, ESPN3 is the only way to do it. If it was a particularly good race, I’ll sometimes watch the highlights again the following day.
The Olympics is a huge event and there is no way to cover all of it on one platform
A modern Olympics has myriad events happening simultaneously over the two week run. There is no way to cover all of them even with the vast broadcast and cable footprint the NBC portfolio encompasses.
Not everyone has access to conventional TV at all times
NBC is going to discover there is an audience during the day for content streamed to laptops and tablets when viewers are not able to watch via conventional TV. If there’s an audience, there’s a potential revenue stream. It even opens the possibility during the coveted prime time to watch multiple events simultaneously.
Viewers will get the content one way or another
As stated in the article, NBC learned a valuable lesson in 2008 – viewers will find a stream somewhere and we need to insure it’s ours. Free streams of both live sports and current content not yet available online are out there and viewers will find them. Having looked for them myself, I’d rather log in with my cable provider ID than deal with the spam ware I got loaded up with and had to clean out when I accessed a pirate stream.
Lest anyone think I’m siding with either broadcasters or cable operators, I’m not. I’ve had my share of scream fests discussions with my cable provider over ESPN3, why they moved SPEED 2 access to a ūber sports tier I’m not interested in just to get SPEED2, their stupid complicated sign up/login process for ESPN3. It’s a long list. Content providers like Hulu are not innocent in this and network websites are far from perfect either. Available content is either incomplete or delayed to the point where the audience no longer cares. Cutting the cord is still possible and may even become a reality, but will probably require some similar content agreement with providers like Hulu to make it totally viable
Have you, or are you considering cutting the cord? If so, what are your experiences?