As Media Markets Splinter, There's One That Thrives

Pollyannas and doomsayers abound when it comes to the notions of “cord cutting,”  “cord shaving,” (i.e., consumers cutting way back on their pay TV services) and “cord nevers” (i.e., consumers who have never subscribed to pay TV).

These observers are the folks who either:

1) continueto paint rosy outlooks for the future of cable and satellite pay TV services, or;

2) foresee darker, more dire outcomes after studying the big guys’ subscribers’ numbers, the arrival of SlingTV, growth at Netflix or new streaming offers from the likes of HBO and Showtime.  These mirror those who said Vonage would never last or Skype was just for geeks and nerds.

As the new TV market evolves, it’s important to focus not so much on either extreme or the rhetoric but more on research and data – including U.S. Census Bureau demographic data.

That research tells us there’s a huge under-served market of more than 40 million people living in the United States today who were born elsewhere and who retain cultural and emotional ties to the countries of their birth.  

Many of these people are among the “cord nevers” simply because the programming offered over the air, on cable or by satellite wasn’t designed with their interests in mind.  And until the emergence only recently of TV available online via the Internet, a/k/a IPTV or over the top (OTT), they had no alternative.  But now, whether Pollyanna or doomsayer, there is growing recognition that OTT is having a major impact on the distribution of TV content.

For example, even with Univision available widely to Spanish-speaking viewers and listeners in the U.S., there is great demand from émigrés for the first run, original Spanish-language content that originates in Spain, Mexico, Central and South America starting with the telenovelas offered by Antena 3 and RCN Novelas.

This underserved demographic has either never had pay TV or arefed up with paying an average of $140 per month in cable bills. They usually watch no more than 14 channels and can’t get the content they want. And this in the context that “TV everywhere” is becoming more prevalent every day.  By that, I mean more and more consumers are watching TV via mobile apps on a Wi-Fi-connected mobile device vs. a traditional TV or PC.

So let the cord cutting debate go back and forth while the satellite and broadcast industry decide whether it will evolve to meet the changing needs of consumers in terms of content and delivery. We are quickly approaching a major pivot that is driven by shifting consumer demand, better technology and more choices. This is going to be fun to watch.

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