TV’s Messy Future

Good short piece in the NYT this morning titled: “TV’s Future Is Here. It’s Messy. It highlights well the simple fact that cord-cutting is not about declining demand for the bundle itself, but rather the technology of the bundle. Flipping thru 300 channels is terribly obnoxious when juxtaposed to the app-based format of an Apple TV. So why not cut the cord and subscribe to individual streaming services? The author says (my emphasis):

“…we’ve rushed headlong into a hyper-fragmented mess, with a jumble of on-demand services that, added up, cost more and often offer less than the old cable bundle. There are lots of great shows and movies being made, but finding them has become harder than ever.”

The solution to this can be found, of course, in a John Malone statement, as I highlighted the other day: “Checking the box”. That is, the bundle breaks apart into its component parts, then the streaming services *simply* partner with the existing distributors to provide consumers with a single cable bill that contains all of their streaming subscriptions. The NYT author mentions as much, but with a slight twist:

“An enterprising entrepreneur might someday be tempted to package some of these new services and sell them for a single price, essentially remaking the old cable bundle for the internet. But industry experts say that such cooperation between the industry’s giants is unlikely, given the enormous sums at stake.”

I like this ‘twist’. And frankly, I do not understand why the cable companies are not moving more aggressively in this direction. As previously stated, the traditional cable dial is terrible when juxtaposed to Apple TV’s app-based format. So why not rearrange the cable dial to an app-based format based on content provider? Would it disrupt the economics of the current bundle? Uh, yes. But that disruption would likely be less painful than the current bundle blowing up entirely.


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