How 'Alpha House' Got Me Thinking About the Marketing of Excess

I don’t know if other people keep tabs on how much media they really consume, but these days for me, it’s almost impossible not to. I thought about it again over the weekend when I watched the first three episodes of Amazon Prime’s comedy series, “Alpha House,” for free.

That was the offer Amazon made to hook me into paying $80 per year to subscribe to the online service, which also comes with a year’s worth of free shipping for everything I might buy from Amazon, and some Kindle book loan provisions.

 I’m thinking, I’m thinking.   It doesn’t seem like a bad deal. It helps that “Alpha House” is every bit as smart as HBO’s “Veep,” with sharp, witty dialogue from Garry Trudeau and good-inside-the-Beltway sensibility from co-executive producer and veteran journalist/smart guy Jonathan Alter.

If I bought in, I’d also get access to 41,000 movie and TV titles from Amazon--some dispute that figure, by the way. But whatever it is,  Netflix has a lot more, and Hulu has a lot too, and if you subscribed to all of them it would cost you around $25 a month.

I already pay over $200 to Comcast for an Internet, cable, and phone package. I find that onerous not because I can’t afford it, but because the cable end of it seems to be out of proportion to what I watch. Way, way out of proportion.

I'm not alone, as cord-cutters and cord-nevers prove. But we are reaching a serious tipping point about how long consumers will keep paying to be overwhelmingly over-served, and it keeps becoming more real with every made-for-online series.

It looks like subscription levels for pay-TV have declined ever so slightly for the last three quarters. By the end of this year about 30% of us will have connected TVs of some sort. And research from TDG Group now says half the hooked-up consumers have increased their OTT viewing, and 24% of them say they’ve increased by a sizable amount. That's still isn’t a jaw-dropping figure, but it’s growth that is predictive a bigger rush to OTT in the very near future.

 “That consumers are watching more over-the-top video is not itself surprising,” notes Michael Greeson, co-founder of TDG in the release. “But to see such a widespread increase in OTT TV viewing is dramatic, especially as pay-TV subscriptions in the US are experiencing their greatest 12-month losses to date.”

Some of my overspending—most of it—that I do is because I pay attention to media. But really, it’s ridiculous. Media consumers have been conditioned—ironically, by cable—to crave a huge canvas of choice. But like so many consumer products, we don’t use even a fraction of a fraction of it.

1 comment about "How 'Alpha House' Got Me Thinking About the Marketing of Excess".
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  1. Arthur Greenwald from Greenwald Media, November 18, 2013 at 6:28 p.m.

    Unlike civilian viewers, your subscriptions to these services are legitimately tax deductible. To keep tabs on this stuff, II subscribe to Netflix, Hulu and Amazon plus a bloated premium package via AT&T/U-Verse plus minimal DirecTV service because I'm grandfathered in to the east coast broadcast network stations. While I concede this is overkill, it does mean that there is very little new programming that I'm not in a position to sample. It also makes me wonder how people who DON'T read the trades would ever find out about most of it.

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