2018 Will See Rise Of 'Post-Cable' Networks

2018 could be a breakthrough year for so-called “post-cable” networks (PCNs), channels distributed via over-the-top streaming platforms rather than through the traditional pay-TV ecosystem.

Edelman Digital, in its 2018 trends report for brands and marketers, wrote that these niche networks, widely distributed on social platforms and OTT services, are poised to take marketshare from legacy players, as more and more consumers cut or trim the cord.

“The scalability and ability to respond to real-time events with platform-optimized content puts PCNs in a favorable position to take market-share from established media outlets,” the report says. “A big differential is that followers of PCNs op -in because they are actively looking for a trustworthy brand to provide easily shareable, niche content.”

The term “post-cable network” was reportedly coined by Jon Steinberg, the founder and CEO of Cheddar -- fitting, since Cheddar is one of the most widely distributed post-cable channels. Other services highlighted by Edelman include Tastemade and the male-focused Barstool Sports.

Edelman’s report also provides guidance for brands about how to best tap into the rise of these new networks.

“Brands can capitalize on this opportunity by seeking out test-and-learn collaborations" with PCNs, the report says. “The key is to integrate authentically into the PCN’s current content cycle, creating a sustained emotional connection with audiences.”

In the case of Cheddar, Steinberg said at an Interactive Advertising Bureau conference earlier this year that he expected his channel to be available to every major OTT service by mid-2018. The value proposition is simple: while traditional cable channels demand that OTT suppliers pay them a monthly carriage fee (much like traditional pay-TV providers do), Cheddar and others offer their channel for free, instead opting to split advertising revenues.

For Cheddar, the result is wide distribution and a chance for its editorial and advertiser content to reach a wide audience. For OTT suppliers, the result is free content that bulks up channel lineups.

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