Dear Cable TV Executives,
I don’t want 300 channels. I only want 18 channels. OK, the average person wants 18 channels. I really only want six. Why can’t I have just six?
I know, I know, it’s the economics of the industry. But industries change, don’t they? I mean, look what has happened to the music industry. I used to have to purchase an entire CD just to get the one or two songs I want, but now I can buy and build my own playlists song by song. It’s funny, but I’m sure I spend more on music now than I used to.
You should know I just bought an Apple TV box. That’s not your fault – since the Blockbuster Video stores near me closed (and RedBox, while cool, doesn’t exactly offer a huge selection) I didn’t really have a good option for renting movies. So I thought it was worth a try. Now I can select from a huge selection of movies and TV shows, and when I’m not in a buying mood I can use it to watch YouTube on my HDTV. I’m beginning to think of YouTube as the ultimate TV network – there’s so much on-demand entertainment there. (Hmm. You might want to make a note of that.)
Speaking of entertainment, I’ve held off on getting a Kindle because I knew Apple was coming out with a similar device. I’m excited to get my iPad, not only to check my email and surf the web but to download books. I guess Apple is shaking up the book publishing industry just like it did the music industry. “Saving it” is probably a more accurate description; I’m sure my book purchasing behavior will mirror my new music buying habits. I wonder if they’re thinking along the same lines when it comes to TV. I guess time will tell.
So if you don’t mind, I’d like to subscribe to individual cable channels. For that matter, I wouldn’t mind subscribing to individual programs. I know you won’t get as hefty of a monthly fee from me, but I’d be willing to pay more per network than you’re getting now. And I suspect other people would be too.
Anyway, it’s something to think about. But no pressure. If you don’t do it, I’m sure I can find other things to do with my time and money.
Editors Note: I’m with you Steve. I’ve got limited cable because I don’t have much time to watch television. When I really want to watch something specific I can get it online. Cable TV is going to face much the same problem that fixed line phone service faces now (declining subscriber #’s). And, if more and more networks develop their own ‘apps’ for a variety of mobile or IP platforms (Apple TV, iPhone, Blackberry, iPad FloTV, etc.), it’s only going to accelerate.
Steve McKee is a BusinessWeek.com columnist, marketing consultant, and author of “When Growth Stalls: How it Happens, Why You’re Stuck, and What To Do About It.” Learn more about him at www.WhenGrowthStalls.com and at https://twitter.com/whengrowthstall.
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