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.

Source: Cable TV subscribers plunging – Business Insider

Night Owls

This is interesting but not surprising. A recent study said that people check their social sites at all times of the day – morning, noon and night. Checking Facebook at 3AM in the morning? Seeing what folks are doing on Foursquare at 2:30AM on a Monday? You are not alone! What is most interesting is that folks are checking their social graph to find out what the big news of the day is. And we wonder why the big news organizations are struggling.

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: http://www.cmsummit.com
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/cmsummit
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/CM-Summit-NY
LinkedIn Group: http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=1005697

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

Frustrated With Search

Here is an interesting analysis from eMarketer that notes while Search spending is steady, marketers are becoming frustrated with the results. The bellwether of the online marketing arsenal is showing some cracks in the armor. To be honest, this does not surprise me too much. Online users are getting more savvy with regards to online marketing, and search specifically (clicks on banner ads have been in free fall since the first one back on Wired in 1998).  In turn, searchers are clicking less on paid results and increasingly looking more towards the “natural” results.  They are searching for relevant conversations about whatever it is they are looking for.  Further, we are seeing the behaviors of Searchers change over time too. Queries are becoming more complex, more in the form of natural language questions, and we are seeing a big rise in mobile search. Add this together and the result in less “advertisable” Search impressions – paid search is not as effective in matching against such complex queries, and mobile search has less physical space to deliver advertising.  With less search impressions, there is less inventory, meaning prices will inherently rise while performance declines. Not a good equation if you are a marketer.

But I think this is another element of a much broader movement that is going on. What we are seeing validates the argument that will be outlined in Bob Garfield’s upcoming book The Chaos Scenario, where he outlines the massive changes that are and will be happening in the media world.  In part, he argues that while the customers are still out there, they are placing less value in word of the marketers (or institutions) and more value in the advice of other customers:

“They’re still an audience,” he writes, “but they aren’t necessarily listening to you. They’re listening to each other talk about you.

Interesting times, interesting times.

ESPN Chicago

Another nail in the coffin of newspapers and local media. Today, ESPN launched ESPN Chicago, a version of ESPN.com specific to Chicago sports. Basically, they are going to try to leverage their scale to deliver localized content to Chicago. But it’s not just Chicago, this is going to scale to the major markets across the US and Canada. The incremental cost to develop this site was probably relatively minimal, but they will now be able to charge a premium to advertisers who want to market online to a predominantly Chicagoland audience. I’m sure NYC, Boston, LA, Dallas and others are not far behind. And just think, with ESPNZone in Chicago, they can have some serious multimedia, multi channel promotions to dream up. It will be interesting to see how the market reacts to this – whether they will gravitate to this offering or if they will continue to stick with their trusted sources like the Tribune, the Chicago Sun Times and the bartender at Harry Caray’s.

We’re Not Dead Yet

There is a little contentious battle brewing between The Atlantic and the NY Times. The NY Times says it is not going away in May, as was suggested by The Atlantic’s Michael Hirschorn. Yet while its not going away anytime soon, it is an institution that has seen its better days. Be sure to read John Battelle’s post on the future of publishing, which was prompted by the same article.

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.

Goodbye to TechTV

A few weeks ago it was announced that TechTV, the great TV network dedicated to all things technology, was purchased by Comcast and would be merged with the game tv channel G4 to create G4TechTV (now that just rolls of the toungue). Idiots. Fools. Corporate blowhards. Gaming is not technology, technology is not gaming. Technology enalbes Gaming to make the experience better. Gaming is an attribute or a component of the vast impact that technology is having on media and entertainment. But they are mutually exclusive and should hardly be combined. I guess Comcast was so bummed out about geting spurned by Disney that they felt as though they needed to merge something.

Gawk

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.

RSS

i have discovered rss, as some people call real simple syndication, where you can have data feeds incorperated into your web site or blog. its pretty neat and enables you to add updated info and data to your site. ah, the power of xml.