This week at the Pay TV Show in Denver, I had an opportunity to meet with and hear from some of the biggest names in cable TV and live TV streaming. PlayStation Vue, Philo, Sling TV, Pluto TV, fuboTV, Hulu, Amazon, and a host of others companies all sent executives to the event.
During the talk, I was shocked at the complete denial many cable executives are in including those from Comcast and Charter. We heard every excuse in the book for why subscriber numbers are falling but for one hard truth: People just don’t want what you are offering.
Some of the funniest trends we heard at the show included the idea that if you can just put cable online that would make people happy. Others put out the idea that if cable TV can just make their user interfaces better that would get people to come back.
Another idea was we can just replace a traditional pay-TV customer with a streaming service customer—the margins will be smaller but hopefully more customers will sign up to make up for the loss. The idea many cable companies have is all you want is streaming. That completely ignores all the reasons people are leaving you.
The truth is most cord cutters have decided that not only do they not want a traditional pay-TV service, but they also don’t want a live TV streaming service.
According to many reports cord cutters number between 20 and 25 million. (We think that the true number of cord cutters may be higher.) Let’s say 25 million people don’t pay for a traditional pay-TV service and only 5 million subscribe to a live TV streaming service.
That means 20 million Americans have said we don’t need CNN, ESPN, Disney…. They have said their on-demand services, DVDs, and antenna are more than enough.
The idea that if people don’t get a traditional pay-TV service they will get a streaming service is just not supported by the numbers. It is possible in five or so years executives at these companies will wake up to find that not only did people cancel cable but they also ditched their live TV streaming service.
Currently, most of the market for live TV streaming services have been people who already have cable TV or some other live TV streaming service. It may be time to start seriously looking at why 20 million Americans have said no to both.
What about Cord Nevers?
During the talks, many brought up how cord nevers, the cord cutters who have never paid a cable TV bill, don’t know what they are missing. That may be true for some, but for the majority of cord nevers they do know. They had cable growing up at their parent’s house or they had cable TV included in their college dorm room.
Cord nevers know what you are offering and have decided they don’t want it.
I am a great example of this when it comes to home phone. I grew up with a home phone and had one in my college dorm. When I moved into my own place I never once thought about a home phone and have never paid for one. There was no long thought out argument against it. I just knew I didn’t use it and didn’t want to pay for it.
Millions of young Americans are in the same place. They know what cable TV is and also know they just don’t want it.
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