Commentary

Access Is Key For TV/Video Content, But At What Price?

The incoming Trump Administration wants to offer “access” to healthcare for all Americans, which means: “Here’s your access to $1,000 monthly health care premium -- up 40% from the previous year with a crazy high deductible.” Why, thank you!

As a TV consumer, I have “access” to TV content. And like many, I pay a lot for it.  But if it ever gets too expensive, I have some choice. I can buy a digital antenna, or just go broadband-only. Until, of course, that price rises.  (I hear my public library is open late -- maybe in prime time.)

Good news here: My physical health won’t suffer too much from this particular demotion. But my entertainment health might take it on the chin.

TV networks/marketers always talk about reach -- which refers to the total number of different people or households exposed, at least once, to a medium/message during a given period. That can mean “access” -- the opportunity to get those people/homes more exposed to that TV network and/or product.

NBCU’s soon-to-closed linear TV channel, Esquire Network, has had less access, recently losing a massive amount of pay TV subscribers when, in a new NBCU carriage agreement with AT&T late last year, it was left out the mix. That crushed its potential subscriber base: down to 45 million subscribers from 60 million subscribers.

And for actual reach? Cable networks typically are in the 30% to 40% range -- at best -- versus that of broadcast networks, in the 70% to 80% range, according to Pivotal Research Group.

In the digital world, consumers have seemingly unlimited access to TV programming content. But on the other end of the business ecosystem for marketers and networks, it’s a different story: Scaling up issues can plague your business, platform, ad message, in getting enough consumers.

After this summer, Esquire will move entirely into the digital media world -- as a internet/digital-only network.

So what, you say? Isn’t the entire media world moving to digital? Yes, but that current world continues to be tremendously fractionalized. In other words, the network will have a tough time getting scale.

But for “access”?  They’ll have plenty of that. Now it just needs to go and get some actual viewer engagement. And, that will take money.

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