Hard To Quit Cable? DirecTV Enables Alexa To Help

Now that’s a personal assistant!

DirecTV has now added an Alexa “skill,” inviting disgruntled cable customers to use the Amazon smart speaker to help them unsubscribe.

The DirecTV Cable Cutter pitch reads, in part: “Let DirecTV Cable Cutter be your trusty AI sidekick throughout the tedious cable quitting process. With a series of helpful tools, tricks, motivations and meditations, DirecTV Cable Cutter will help you do what you should have done a long time ago.”

Once you say, “Alexa, help me quit cable,” Alexa will "connect you directly to a cable representative so that you don't have to navigate the phone tree, deal with (other) robots, or spend your whole day on hold,” the ad says.

Actually, a user first has to go to the skill page and enter a link that tells you how to do it. But the fun parts are depicted in a YouTube video produced by Organic, Inc. in Los Angeles.



Uli Luetzenkirchen, Organic’s creative director, is happy with the result. “For us the beauty was that insight drove something that has utility and a level of entertainment,” he says. “That’s really how creative and innovation works. Based on insights and needs.”

He explains: “We developed it over the course of a couple of months. Through social listening we knew that people are mad at their cable provider, yet feel trapped due to the tedious process of quitting cable. We decided to not just make another ad but actually create a tool, that is both useful and entertaining, something that represents the qualities of DirecTV.”

When the cable customer asks Alexa to help her quit cable, she responds in that now-familiar, strangely inflected way she has: “I’ll help you escape the 'never-ending' cycle of cable frustration.” Then she suggests, “Would you like to do a quick meditation to get grounded before the call? I know these types of things can be maddening.” Later still, she warns the customer she’s going to get lots of new offers to keep her subscription and teaches her how to say “no” in nine languages.

Cable TV has lost 1.1 million subscribers so far in 2018, according to the Kagan research group, and there seems to be a irreversible migration away from cable to streaming alternatives.

But while DirecTV is being helpful, things aren’t going perfectly well with it, either. It reported in October that it lost 359,000 subscribers in the third quarter on top of the second quarter when it lost 286,000, which up to that time was the most it has ever lost. And its streaming alternative DirecTV Now gained only 49,000 customers, far fewer than the 296,000 that service added in the same period a year earlier.

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