Media Profanity: Don't Call My Business 'Cable'-Like

The association can’t be a good one: Calling any TV-related service the new “cable.”

Some analysts are saying that FAST networks -- free, advertising-supported television -- are the new "cable."

But what does that mean exactly?

On the surface, all that seems good for consumers. FAST services -- such as Tubi, Pluto, Roku Channel, and others -- are for the most part “free.” According to one publication recently: “FAST is the broadcast to Netflix's cable.”

The only real cost for consumers might be buying a set-top-box/streaming distribution-capable smart TV via Roku, Amazon Fire TV, or from a number of smart TV makers.

You need to buy a monthly broadband service as well.

For many years, consumers may have had mixed views of cable TV -- which for some has been akin to a utility home service like electric or gas service.

That might bring up storied customer service issues -- including being pressured by cable customer service people when trying to cancel one’s cable subscription.



Admittedly, it’s a bit easier these days to cancel and then add on new TV services. New FAST services benefit from the Rokus and the Amazons, which in turn benefit from rev share arrangements.

If that sounds like a "distribution" fee thing traditional cable TV operators have benefited from over the last several decades, you would not be wrong. So Roku and Amazon are the new "cable."

Still, you might like things the old way. So if want a collection of 100 to 200 networks via a cable-like package (but where you actually only regularly view like 5 to 11 channels) just look at what traditional cable TV companies are now doing:

Comcast Corp. and Charter Communications now have a joint venture to build out Comcast’s small Flex streaming distribution -- all to vie with Roku and Amazon.

And is the word "cable" tossed around here? Hell, no. Even in their financial releases, virtually none of these legacy companies cede to characterizing their founding business as "cable." Virtually all define that business as "video."

Not sure whether the "Flex" brand will remain. But flexibility will surely be in cards versus that of a cable TV service.

Do you still believe "cable" is a bad word?

Maybe. Just don’t say it in front of your digital media-savvy teenagers. They won’t know you might be cursing.

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