Friday, August 7, 2015

Are There Just Too Many Cable Networks

How many slices of a pie can you make before the serving size gets too small?  Cable operators have impressed us with the number of channels they offer, creating value in aggregating so much content for one low price.  But with the advent of on demand programming and the rise in streaming, channels have become a bit dated.  Asked to define a network by the shows they offer and you can become glassy-eyed trying to figure it out.  As viewers, we simply want to watch and aggregators like Netflix allow us to watch our Mad Men and other shows without caring what "channel" it is on.

Companies with multiple channels under their ownership air shows across those channels to gain audience interest.  Most recently, the Jim Gaffigan Show appeared not only on TV Land, but Comedy Central as well.  These networks are owned by Viacom.  Other media companies have followed similar strategies.  Orphan Black was seen across AMC Networks and BBC America Channels. 

 With so many channels asking for license fees, cable operators realize they now must cut back to save on costs.  Viewers watch shows, not 'channels' these days, and aggregators like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon are capturing consumers with a single source for watching episodes or movies.  No channel names involved.  And so it may be time to consolidate and drop channel brands.  Channels have become too fragmented so that no one network has a sufficiently unique brand. Channel individuality has been lost as each tries to reach the same demographic to drive advertising sales. 

Cable operators realize too that a skinnier bundle with less channel offerings, combined with on demand and streaming capability through their menu, will keep price points more attractive and subscription from dropping. 

It may now be time for the media industry to drop nets and better segment their brands.  Can MTV and VH1 be combined, Can A&E, History, and H2 become one brand; Can IFC, Sundance, and BBC  be combined.  Could TBS, TNT, TruTV become one brand?  And will independent networks like GSN, Ovation, WFN, and others find that they will also fall off the cable line-up.  It might just be time to watch network fragmentation evolve back into fewer more sustainable brands.  r they might go away altogether ac consumers cut the cord to cable TV and seek only their programs on other aggregator platforms. 

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