'A Voice of the TV Viewer' 'NY Times' Ad: Who, What, And Why?

As a subscriber to the print version of the New York Times, I saw an ad on Super Bowl Sunday with the visual of two TV sets side by side, each tuned to an american football game, with one titled “$1.2 Billion,” and the other “Free." The headline stated “It’s The Same Game.  Why The Big Price Difference?”  It was signed by the American Television Alliance, an organization that I wasn’t familiar with, whose subheading states “A Voice for the TV Viewer.”

As excited as I was to see possible advocacy for TV viewers, I was also confused.  I wondered whom the ad is aimed at.  What is it about? Who paid for it?  And if it’s in the interest of TV viewers, why does it complain about premium content delivered for free?  Most cord-cutters under 40 would be thrilled to get the Super Bowl live on their iPad or smart phone.



On its website, the American Television Alliance identifies 36 partners: 20 cable/satellite/telecom/ broadband system operators, including Cablevision, DIRECT TV, Time Warner, Verizon and AT&T; six cable networks including Discovery; six cable/satellite/broadband trade associations and four advocacy/public interest/open Internet organizations.  It also makes a convincing case for its single issue and reason for being:  to convince the Federal Communications Commission that retransmission consent fees (payments TV distributors make to broadcasters) are subject to out-of-date rules governing fees and negotiations. This, the website points out, has recently led to record numbers of TV blackouts for consumers and dramatically escalating fees.

Since my focus is on the next business model for MIA (multiplatform, interactive, advertising-supported) T/V (television/video), I confess I’m not much interested in how parties try and rework the past or even current models for linear television.  I, do, however support the ATA’s right to address, communicate and raise awareness of the issue.  Everyone has a right to make a buck fairly, right?

I’m just hoping that the time, money and energy that these companies and organizations are spending against the declining linear business model are matched by R&D and promoting dialogue on how the current explosion of technology options will create and deliver future revenue and customer satisfaction.

I challenge the idea that the American Television Alliance is “A Voice for the TV Viewer.”  When I contacted a spokesperson for the organization, he said that in using this phrase, the Alliance means it only for this issue.

When I first saw this ad, I was excited about the idea of an association, alliance or advocacy group that would advance the collective interests and desires of the next generation of T/V consumers.  But after spending several hours of research to clarify and understand the “who” and “why” of this ad message, I ended up frustrated by the confusion and distraction it creates against the primary challenge of how this industry is going to get to the right business model. How many like me are even remotely motivated to find out what’s really being said and by whom?

So here’s a couple of additions to my growing wish list for things to get us to a potentially brilliant new business model for MIA T/V, which as the acronym implies, really is missing in action today:

1) How about a powerful advocacy group for T/V consumers, not pushing political, business, social or any agendas other than building the best way(s) for viewers to get the content they want with the least amount of ad interruption, and at the lowest possible cost?

2) Wouldn’t it be great to see some old-style, Bell Labs-like R&D effort focused on business models for MIA T/V, with full, transparent and complete disclosure of the who, what and why of it, and thoughtful insights and implications to guide all parties toward a prosperous future?

3 comments about "'A Voice of the TV Viewer' 'NY Times' Ad: Who, What, And Why? ".
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  1. Leonard Zachary from T___n__, March 2, 2012 at 12:31 p.m.

    We would love to read your feedback on
    this analysis

    and further reconcile with your position today, thanks!

  2. Herb Lair from CUO,Inc., March 6, 2012 at 2:24 p.m.

    Cable model, unlike original broadcast model of matching content cost increases with advertising, has gotten so skewed to content being paid by subscribers, not advertisers, it needs a shock. ESPN is $7 for suite soon going to $10. Cable subs are subsidizing that content with 30% sports addicts and the remaining 70% casual or non-sports sub paying a $1 billion a month. Having a company like Google 100% ad supported should bring a much needed new model perspective.Also the ap supported model of Apple could bring some new models as well as it did to music. Cable TV revenue model is broken and recent attempt by Canoe Ventures only further illustrates how out of touch they are with targeted ads,etc and use of Internet to save costs, not increase them. On the smaller communities I see a new groundswell against cable, that I think they are severely underestimating. A community bank CEO said he saw something similar in banking when the big banks failed to take care of community needs.In other words I see a niche where Apple could establish its model and build a challenge to the larger cable operators, not unlike the model Walmart used to displace KMart, Sears, etc.May include cherry picking planned comunities.

  3. Herb Lair from CUO,Inc., March 6, 2012 at 2:28 p.m.
    Ideas to offset content costs

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