I love the vision of cord cutting. I hate it’s reality. In reality, other than for the technically savvy and people under the age of 25, cord cutting just makes TV-based entertainment really really hard. For the rest of us, it’s simply easier to deal with the cable/sat companies we tend to dislike, remain grumpy, and watch anyway. I originally posted the following as a long comment on this piece at NewTeeVee, then decided it was “blog-able”. Read the original post first prior to my rebuttal, otherwise this makes little-to-no-sense…
I enjoyed reading your post, but one opening question – Your predictions are “an option embraced by a large number of consumers” and “we’ll end the year with a substantial loss of subscribers”. I ask – what does this mean? Is a million households “substantial”? Is ten thousand a “large number”? This distinction matters quite a bit.
While I appreciate the vision of cord cutting, the simple reality check is this – the only market segment truly ready to “cord cut” is new college grads who don’t currently have cords. By and large there are no viable ways to get rid of a real cable/sat service that mainstream consumers can adopt. I maintain that the only thing truly
dissatisfying about “cord” services today is the visibly notable compression in HD signals
(it’s ridiculous). And now for a specific rebuttal to your points:
The economy: when the market actually crashed and unemployment spiked, cord cutting didn’t happen. Why would it happen 2 years later with a more stable economy and more ppl back to work?
Netflix: I love me some Netflix, but it’s far from sufficient to cut anything. Let’s face it, the selection for streaming is still so-so (at best) and nowhere near close enough to replace TV.
Retrans/fees: Consumers, for the most part, have no idea, and this is an industry issue, not likely to cause behavior changes.
New devices: For complete disclosure, I am biased ON the side of those who make these devices (in fact, I’m probably tied to more cord-cutting related ventures than anyone other than the guys making the chips and codecs!). And I am 100% certain that there’s not a single one on the market today that’s compelling enough for mainstream cord cutting (not debating which is better, etc, merely stating the obvious regarding the needs of early adopters and niche techies vs the mainstream). To be clear, I’m not voicing any opinion on the quality of the products (though I have many), they just aren’t focused on mainstream users yet.
TV everywhere failure: Inertia is actually on the side of the cable industry. They’ll continue to improve the service to “Acceptable” levels, and that’ll stifle any other innovation from having a real chance.
Bottom line is cord cutting is one of those things that sounds great right now, just like moving to Canada when Bush got re-elected in 2004. But in pragmatic terms, it’s just a major pain in the ass (though I am actually working on solving that problem as well, but that’s for later). I’ll put my chips on the “2015 or later” box.
ps – happy new year, my resolution, again, is to blog more. again.