Friday, October 30, 2009

Tonight on TV

Cable networks were created to bring niche interests to the masses and compete with the general programming of broadcasters. But the cable landscape has changed and cable networks are no longer acting like niches but behaving like broadcast networks. Case in point, tonight's line-up:

A&E - should be called CBS 2 with reruns of Criminal Mind and CSI: Miami
TV Land - once the home of classic TV shows is featuring a movie, "Private Benjamin"
Bravo - once culture TV presents Americas Next Top Model and a movie "Sleepless in Seattle" - that's culture?!
MTV - so long music videos, we get "Scream 3"
Travel - ahhh travel. So where to tonight - "Ghost Adventures Live!" Ticket for one, please.

And so it goes. Cable networks continue to broaden their programming so that they begin to lose their individual identity. Was that show on Food Network or TLC, AMC or TNT? So hard to say, they all start looking alike. So goodbye to networks, with VOD, simply watch the show you enjoy, regardless of where it may have first appeared.

Cablevision To Raise 2010 Video Rates 3.7%

How do you protect yourself from competition, sometimes its by keeping prices steady, perhaps even lowering them. That is somewhat the case for Cablevision. While voice and data rates remain steady, cable subscription is rising. Initially, I would have thought that this move was wrong, especially when cable basic subscription falls. But when your competition also raises rates then the one who raises it the least may be the winner. "The increase is slightly higher than 2009, when video rates rose an average of 3.5%. But it is substantially below the 21% increase Cablevision rival Verizon Communications implemented for its legacy FiOS TV Premier Package earlier this month."

Ultimately, the consumer, faced with either price increase will look at the other choices and ask, which is cheaper. To them, cable, voice, and data has begun to look more like a commodity than a differentiated product. What differentiates one from the other on the cable side is minimal, one has HD channels of local sports (obviously because Cablevision owns those channels and has not agreed to license them to Verizon). The other just picked up Epix. For the most part, for the majority of consumers, each has enough networks to satisfy. Each delivers data at broadband speed. Each offers wireline telephone service. How they service their current customer and how they woo their competitors customers may make the difference. In the meantime, price will continue to be the motivating factor. Regardless of how much they increase their price, it is the one that offers the lowest total cost for the package that will see the bigger rise of subscribers. In essence, cable TV has become a commodity product and the companies have done little to nothing to change that impression.