Folks Are Cutting The Cord

People are fed up and they are not going to take it anymore! At least, this appears to be holding true for their relationship with cable TV companies.

In the first half of 2015, year-over-year growth in MVPD subscribers “multichannel video programming distributor,” or, in plain English, a cable company like Time Warner Cable or Comcast” went negative. Over the past five years, the percent of households with cable subscriptions has been falling. But with year-over-year subscribers still seeing growth, however modest, cable companies were still able to look past what some had seen as a coming cord-cutting apocalypse. It doesn’t get worse than this.

The consistency of the decline in cable subscriptions is pretty amazing if you look at this chart. And as the article illustrates, it is a trend that does not appear to be subsiding anytime soon. The ability for today’s customers to more effectively control how, when, and where they consume their media is nothing short of a tidal shift in customer behavior.

As a focus group of one, the only time I really watch TV programming ‘live’ is for sports or very unique programming events. All the TV shows, series, and ‘pre-produced’ content I watch derives from my DVR, Netflix, HBOGo, movies in my movie library, and other channels on my Apple TV set top box. More times that not, I’m watching those programs on my iPad. And what is even more telling: my children almost never watch TV on the TV – they watch their content via their iPads.

I’ve debated back and forth with some friends who have cut the cord, or are seriously considering cutting the cord, about how they are evaluating the ‘savings’ from making such a move. The thing is that the ‘kabletowns‘ of the world know that their ‘hammer’ is the broadband internet pipe feeding into your house. Folks like Comcast and Time Warner are now offering “Internet Plus” type packages for $60-90/mo that include high speed internet as the primary value with some local TV stations and HBO as add ons, a price point that is significantly lower than the $160-200 folks pay now for bundled services. Yet when you start to add on Netflix ($10/mo), Amazon Prime ($99/yr) and any other type of monthly media services that may be important to you, the total cost starts to creep up to the same price as what Comcast was originally charging for the full Cable/Internet/Phone packages. And I’m not even including your monthly Mobile Phone bill or the cost of devices.

At the end of the day, it really comes down to a lifestyle and personal preference decision. If you are a person who values the idea of surfing around different TV channels to ‘discover’ a program or movie you have not seen, then there is value in the ‘traditional’ cable package. If you are a person like me who doesn’t watch much ‘live’ TV and is just as comfortable finding a TV series via apps like Netflix and HBOGo, then the idea of moving away from subscribing to cable TV as we know it is not that big of a deal. For companies like Comcast, Time Warner, Cox Communications and media organizations like ESPN, these ‘cord cutting’ market shifts should be a big wake up call.

Twitter Impacts TV Ratings

From a presentation this week at the Social TV Summit (Yes, I too didn’t know this conference even existed):

The correlation with ratings [and Tweets] is much stronger. When you look at the volume of same-day Tweets about a show, it’s a significant factor in explaining that show’s ratings. “If Nielsen’s our blood pressure, I’d like you to think of Twitter as our heartbeat. It’s the EKG of attention around a show.”

This is just another example of why Steve Jobs and so many others have been obsessed with distrupting the TV industry. The Neilsen ratings model of TV measurement has always been fundamentally broken. Digital TV services (Apple TV, Boxee, Roku, etc.) and services like Twitter and IntoNow now give marketers, advertisers and media companies the opportunity to mash up data sources and extract a level of insight never before seen.

Twitter alone can deliver a depth of knowledge at the aggregate level is pretty staggering and this is just another example of that. Services like DataSift and Gnip enable you to tap into the Twitter firehose and dig into some pretty amazing insights that can help inform so many business decisions.

Minimal Biz Card

After taking some inspiration from Boris Simus and his Minimal Contact/Biz Card design, I went ahead and tried one on for size myself. My online “brand” situation is very similar to Boris’s in that my “sgclark” id represents this domain, my @sgclark Twitter handle, and my Facebook and Google+ id’s. I may even get it processed as my personal card at someplace like Moo. TBD.

Also, I’m on a bit of a minimalist kick right now as I’m really studying and paying more attention to clean, clear user interactions both online and offline. I’ve even taken to cleaning up my own site a bit with this new U/X. I’m not fully done with this as I’m tweaking it here and there.

Update: sgclark is also my handle on Instagram, Snapchat, and several other sites and social networks of choice.

Old Spice Guy Is Back

Yes, the Old Spice Guy is back in all his buff, towel covered glory for a series of quick video clips in a similar fashion to last year. Only this time, he’s taking on Fabio in a “Mano A Mano in El Bano” steel cage video match to the death (or, until one of them gets more votes online).

A handful of the Fabio videos are kinda funny. But more striking to me is the clear awkwardness of Fabio while recording these videos. I don’t know if that is part of the act or not, but looking at the Fabio videos head to head against the Old Spice Guy (Isaiah Mustafa) makes you really appreciate the Old Spice Guy’s skill and talent.

Illegal Dumping

Hey, lets get rid of the evidence by going to the local car park and dump the computer, papers, and a phone in the trash bin. No one will find it, really…trust me.

Detectives are examining a computer, paperwork and a phone found in a bin near the riverside London home of Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of News International.

The Guardian has learned that a bag containing the items was found in an underground car park in the Design Centre at the exclusive Chelsea Harbour development on Monday afternoon.

The car park, under a shopping centre, is yards from the gated apartment block where Brooks lives with her husband, a former racehorse trainer and close friend of David Cameron.

It is understood the bag was handed in to security at around 3pm, and that shortly afterwards Brooks’s husband, Charlie, arrived and tried to reclaim it. He was unable to prove the bag was his and the security guard refused to release it.

Via The Guardian

The CM Summit

I’m settling in nicely to my new job over here at Federated Media. I’m working on some great stuff. And to that end, I wanted to let everyone know of an event that FM is hosting in June here in NYC.

So I’m proud to announce the 2010 CM Summit, which will take place on June 7th and 8th at the Hudson Theater and Millennium Broadway Hotel in NYC. We will have some amazing speakers and conversation, which I will let our fearless leader John Battelle speak to in his post on the FM blog. As a preview, some of the booked speakers include Avner Ronen of Boxee, Dennis Crowley of Foursquare, Arianna Huffington of The Huffington Post, and Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. of The New York Times Corp. Here is the full list of speakers.

Some additional resources for your viewing pleasure:

CM Summit Website:
LinkedIn Group:

So book early. Every previous one has been sold out. It’s going to rock!

Stock and Flow

I just love this article/post Stock and Flow from Robin Sloan at Snarkmarket. I have been trying to put my finger on a way to articulate how modern media and content works today and struggled to find the best way to sum it up. I think this article does this very effectively.

Flow is the feed. It’s the posts and the tweets. It’s the stream of daily and sub-daily updates that remind people that you exist. Stock is the durable stuff. It’s the con­tent you pro­duce that’s as interest­ing in two months (or two years) as it is today. It’s what peo­ple discover via search. It’s what spreads slowly but surely, build­ing fans over time. I feel like flow is ascendant these days, for obvi­ous reasons, but we neglect stock at our own peril. I mean that both in terms of the health of an audi­ence and, like, the health of a soul. Flow is a treadmill, and you can’t spend all of your time run­ning on the treadmill. Well, you can. But then one day you’ll get off and look around and go: Oh man. I’ve got noth­ing here.

This really hit home for me. In the article, Robin takes the simple economics metaphor of stock, the amount of “money in the bank”, and flow “the rate of change” and applies it to modern online and social media. So services like Twitter and Facebook are the “flow” and things like blogs and publishing are the stock. Yes, sites such as Twitter are interesting and have changed the landscape, but this approach just reinforces to me that blogs and the development of sustainable articles, applications, and services are just as critical to the modern media landscape.

Via Kottke

I Want My (Free) Marketplace Podcast

Marketplace, which airs on NPR, is probably my favorite audio show out there. Its a half hour audio show that talks about the day’s business news, but in a way that is immensely interesting and engaging. But to my great frustration, its not available as a free podcast like practically every other show on NPR? Why, you ask? Well, and I am speculating here as I have no facts, but its probably because they are tied down to a poorly negotiated contract with Audible, a company who’s business model is completely shot to hell with the advent of the podcast and is desperate to keep “partners” providing them with content. I mean, you can get Marketplace @ Audible for $2.00 an episode or $70 a year, but who is realistically going to pay for that in the world of podcasting? The number of subscribers has to be a miserable number. On the area of Audible that promotes Marketplace, there are zero, zip, nada, customer comments. I can hear the tumbleweeds. Its heresy to pay for a show that’s aired on National Public Radio.

So I ask you, fair reader and Marketplace listener, stand up and be heard. Send Marketplace an email and implore them to release Marketplace as a free podcast.

The End of Circuits

I have recently heard that the popular Circuits section in the NY Times will be eliminated and the articles from Circuits will be rolled up into their general Business section as part of an editorial overhaul of their Business section.

The basic philosophy in making this bold move is that technology is now so part of the mainstream that the reporting and articles that were previously isolated to the Circuits section should be more seamlessly integrated into the overall Business section of the paper. I think the theory and rationale is very sound however there is a part of me that did like having a specific section dedicated to technology. Since they introduced Circuits, I have been a loyal reader of the Thursday section, however in the past year or so I do have to admit that more times than not, the stories became less interesting to me. I look forward to the new changes to the NY Times Business section and I am sure it will make for better reading.


Check out Gawker. Its an “interesting” site that takes gossip to the next level, if you want to go to that next level. I think we can only get so much news about what the Hiton sisters are doing on their worldwide rampage to spend their family’s fortune.

Bad Creative

I am really sick of the Sprint ad campaign that is out there these days, especially the ad with the dork sitting at the diner bar who is wearing some kind of sandwich all over his face and is getting his picture taken with a Sprint PCS camera phone by some moderately attractive blonde woman. Its just annoying. As is the guy in the black coat.