Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Time To Disintermediate US TV ?

A new report seems to indicate that a million Americans have stopped paying for traditional television in the past year and that the total switching off will reach nearly 5 million in the next year.

Such figures are difficult to corroborate, but one thing that's clear is that traditional cable companies and broadcasters in the US have been far too slow to respond to the challenges of the TV everywhere era.

Whilst most channels in the UK and France have sophisticated simulcast and catch-up services, the major US broadcasters have all been dragging their feet on providing even the most basic services.

Not surprisingly the likes of Netflix, Hulu, Verizon and AT&T have taken up the mantle and won significant market share, along with hardware providers such as Roku.

However, the irony of this is that it's a win-win situation for the broadcasters since most of them are also major studios and produce much of the content they transmit and then sell on to the likes of... yes, you guessed it, Amazon, Hulu and Netflix.

The US television market with its local affiliates is a dinosaur from another era and the rise of the cable cutters is particularly threatening to local and regional affiliates, and this in turn is likely to disrupt the current distribution models. The current models are durable, the cost of cables has long been sunk into the ground, so to speak, and the television advertising market seems to be holding up remarkably well.

However, the rise of content powerhouses such as HBO, who now have their disintermediation going on, shows that in the era of Internet TV the value really is in the content and not the channel.