Tuesday, February 10, 2015

New challengers for Cable, Multichannel

Cable really started having trouble as it transitioned into its third stage - Cable as broadband (see Bates & Chambers, 2004).  A large consequence of this transition was the opportunities digital content and media provided for competition - first through DBS (satellite), then through telco-based broadband/video providers.  The last couple of years has continued the onslaught, with the spread of mobile devices and video streaming that's led to the growth of "cord-cutting", particularly among younger TV content consumers.

In addition to the explosion of competition, the cable/multichannel provider market (which includes DBS and telco-cable services) is having to deal with the growing demand for carriage rights for channels and content - leading to substantial increases in the cost of channels which are inevitably passed through to increased costs for multichannel customers (see Bates, 2014).  While the multichannels consider breaking their bundles, or going "a la carte" (offering single channels to viewers), the online streaming markets have been booming, offering a wealth of content choices for a fraction of the price.  Until recently, though, that has not included live carriage of major networks.

Carriage of major network content actually started a couple of years ago, when the major broadcast networks started making some of their primetime series to audiences through their own websites, multichannel on-demand services, and even some streaming video services.  Then CBS upped the ante, announcing their own subscription streaming service that would greatly expand access to network content, and both HBO and Sony have announced plans that would offer access to their channels and content online, and independent of having a multichannel subscription.  (TV Everywhere also boasts streamed access to cable channels, but require that consumers subscribe to those channels through a multichannel provider).

The degree to which these streaming efforts are impacting the TV marketplace is reflected in the FCC's recent announcement that it's considering revising its definition of multichannel service to include online sites that offer multiple channels or streams.

Still, DishTV's announcement that it will offer US consumers a SlingTV bundle of basic cable channels (without requiring a Dish subscription) for an initial price of $20/mo. is a significant new competitive challenge.  The basic package includes top channels in many niche categories (ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, TBS, Food Network, HGTV, Travel Channel, Adult Swim, AMC, Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, ABC Family, CNN, El Rey and Galavision, as well as access to Sling TV’s video-on-demand library), with three add-on bundles at $5/mo (Kids Extra, News/Info Extra, Sports Extra). And there seems to be a buzz growing about Apple assembling something similar to the SlingTV bundles for its own entry into the OTT market.

The initial problem for the big multichannels is that the basic service plus an add-on or two, provides access to much of the channels desired by a big segment of current multichannel subscribers, but at a fraction of the cost of the bigger bundles of channels that multichannels now offer.  Multichannels will have to respond with similar mini-bundles at competitive prices, or significant loss in customers to cord-shaving or cord-cutting.

Sources - Sling TV Debuts With Major Cable Channels, MediaDailyNews
Cable-TV Desperately Searches for Ways to Stop the Cord-Cutting, The Street

Editted - added pics.

No comments:

Post a Comment