Despite all the hoopla around cheap internet-based $20-a-month live, linear TV packages, the jury is still out. That's especially true among millennials.
What if those young viewers -- perhaps with less-than-adequate resources or decent-paying jobs -- want something even cheaper?
Maybe they just want a digital TV antenna for a one-time cost of $20-- one where you can get a bunch of local stations with TV network programming. A Wall Street Journal article on Wednesday raised that concern.
Seems the real “must-have” long-term media service/device is a mobile phone, maybe with a plan as cheap as $30 or $40 a month.
On a vacation trip back to California, a young female air traveler, definitely in her 20s, sat in front of me. She asked the passenger next to her if she could borrow a phone -- to call her relatives and confirm pickup.
Why was this millennial without a phone? (Could she be scamming that passenger?) Once I ruled out any nefarious activity, I thought of another scenario. Maybe a mobile phone commitment was just too much for her.
The big sell around “skinny TV” bundles is low cost. TV, media and phone companies hope this will be enough of a draw for long-term behavior commitment.
But some studies believe that is the wrong equation. The issues isn't price, but alternatives. A survey from Videology earlier this year found only one-third of millennial males plan to pay for television this year, with 9% saying they plan to cancel their cable subscriptions.
Instead, it's about having near-term options: monthly, weekly, daily. If millennials are going to pay for anything TV-wise, it might just be Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. Basically, any service that is available a la carte -- and can be cancelled at anytime.
TV executives should stop thinking of the digital future like an easy chair. Don’t get too comfortable -- a sharp spring could await.