TV carriage issues, including blackouts and the like, continue to plague the business. But is all this news fading?
Dish Network lost 386,000 subscribers in the fourth quarter, partly as a result of it dropping HBO and Univision due to stalling carriage contract talks.
The year before? Much of the same. Dish was down 367,000 subscribers, also in the fourth quarter. Heightened news of carriage renewal deals -- or the lack thereof -- came at the end of the year.
The question going forward is, will these stories of potential blackouts still make headlines when every TV network group also has its own OTT platform -- as well as being available on new virtual pay TV providers?
There are few pay TV providers in the future that won't be able to play the victim -- or hold any networks hostage for not airing TV networks, when consumers have increasing options. Many may just want to reinvent their services -- and all of this might mean less headlines and less attention.
Consumers who truly need the new HBO season of, say, “Game of Thrones” or upcoming NFL post-season games on the big TV networks will have a bunch of options to consider.
Not only that, but should consumers head to an OTT platform -- priced at say $5.99 a month or less -- they can instantly opt out of that service the next month.At the same time, TV networks that push for ever-higher subscriber fees, which results in a blackout from pay TV service, might also be in a bind. Univision says its subscriber revenues were down a massive 17% in the fourth quarter of 2018. Add that to counterattacking ad campaigns from a pay TV provider and TV networks might just disappear.
Will pay TV providers moan that a network wants to, in effect, raise your consumer pricing? TV networks won't be able to call those pay TV provider too controlling, especially when consumer will have a choice to separately purchase their OTT app.
Ironically, many traditional pay TV providers also own low-cost virtual pay TV providers. If consumers downgrade, so will company revenues.
Consumer-facing pay TV operators and TV networks have raised the stakes over the last few years when it comes to blackouts. But now with either lower attention, just a shrug of shoulders, or a flip of the hand, consumers might be instigating some blackouts of their own.