Will More TV Blackouts Cause Consumers To Rebel -- Or Move In An Unpredictable Direction?
Have TV viewers now become so used to blackouts that they'll just shrug their shoulders?
In the 1950s, if antenna problems caused "snow" on your black-and-white screen, you probably got frustrated. But you likely got somewhat used to it -- in an apathetic way.
Nine days of a blackout of Viacom channels on DirecTV didn't harm the two companies as much as one might think. One survey pointed out that during those nine days, only 4% of DirecTV subscribers canceled their subscriptions.
But where did they really go? To Dish, Comcast, Time Warner, or perhaps over-the-top services like Aereo? Forward-thinking consumers might ask, "Well, what do I do now? What if these other TV distributors wind up in the same boat as DirecTV? Do I want to hitch a ride elsewhere -- for the long term?"
Some experts believe these type of blackouts, which are well-publicized by both TV programmers and TV distributors, actually train consumers to expect future TV disruptions. Kind of like the snow on your screen.
SNL Kagan believes more blackouts are coming. The DirecTV-Viacom standoff was comparably long by some standards. Other blackouts are typically only a day or two in length, and might occur -- planned or by accident -- around big events like the Super Bowl, Academy Awards and college football bowl games.
So what can consumers do? Go online? They may not have a smart TV; they may not have a tablet and an easy way to transfer video to a big-screen TV. Do they watch on their laptops or desktops?
Consumers have hundreds of networks and thousands of programs to choose from. So their favorite show isn't on right now? Maybe it will be tomorrow. For now, there's another cooking competition show to watch -- or perhaps a drama.
A plethora of program options can make entertainment consumers lazy when it comes to angry interaction with their media providers. Perhaps they don't need to see the next episode of "Teen Mom" on MTV.
This is not good for networks. It could go a long way to discounting the value of important key network shows -- especially on cable, where one big franchise can drive an entire network's brand value.
For TV distributors? Maybe consumers will buy more barebones monthly TV services. In any event, consumers will be trained to evolve -- whether distributors like it or not.