Give Me Heat, Air-Conditioning -- And Occasionally, TV

The pay TV business remains “the widest household service in the country after heat and electricity,” according to John Skipper, president of ESPN, speaking to the Wall Street Journal.

To which I say: Someone hand me those solar panels!

We all look for those options -- legal and otherwise. Let’s stay with the “otherwise” for a moment: A new study released at NATPE says more than half of all Internet consumers in Latin America -- 110 million -- have, at one time or another, accessed “pirated” video/audio programming.

Now think about this: Verizon now claims one-third of all its FiOS TV business comes from a slimmed-down, modestly priced, “skinny” TV package, called Custom TV (which has drawn the anger from ESPN with a lawsuit saying Verizon is in breach of its pay TV distribution contract).



Draw a conclusion here that if traditional media networks and platforms don’t have their own options  business-wise things can get much worse: not just people spending less on TV entertainment, but perhaps not spending anything at all for some of it.

In ESPN’s favor: Hardly anyone watches a live sport event on a time-shifted basis. That’s good news for TV advertisers -- and for TV viewers who increasingly want real-time -- which used to call it live -- TV content.  But other cable networks -- with perhaps lots of scripted or reality shows? That is a different kind of TV consumption.

Sure ESPN has lost around seven million subscribers over the last two years -- around 7%. But let’s not all put the onus all on TV cable sports networks. Spike and MTV have each lost 7.5% during that time period; TNT and TBS, around 6%; and Discovery and Lifetime, about 5%.

Still, ESPN is a bellwether for how the business goes. It is perhaps the single strongest ad-supported cable network, even if you aren’t a sports fan.

All to say many cable networks don’t really have an issue when it comes to consumers looking at options: They have problems with narrow-minded TV business executives who aren’t generating their own heat and electricity.

1 comment about "Give Me Heat, Air-Conditioning -- And Occasionally, TV".
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  1. brian ring from ring digital llc, January 25, 2016 at 5:24 p.m.

    Live Sportscasts Aren’t DVR-proof; and that’s Good for TVE & OTT

    Actually I do think some portion of 'sports TV' watchers do in fact time-shift their viewing. It may be just a few minutes, to fast-forward through commercials, or to watch that game that's recording while you're out to dinner with your wife and her friends. It's true, this isn't a 'majority' behavior, and it certainly isn't conventional wisdom - but worth noting that ESPN was built on SportsCenter, a highlights show based on the idea that people love to catch-up on sports they missed in a non-live context too.

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