Bargains are the one upside of a down economy, and it looks like we’ll see low prices beyond just the Black Friday gadget deals this year. Cable and telco providers have a lot of reasons to entice video subscribers this season.
First, even though pay TV is essentially a luxury service, it’s the type of service that is really hard to drop when you’re limiting vacation plans and enjoying fewer evenings out. If you’re going to be at home more, you want to expand your TV viewing options. A little financial incentive from a video service provider is probably enough to keep a lot of people from skimping on their TV packages.
Second, serious bargains on HDTV sets this year may push a significant number of standard-def holdovers over the edge into HD. New HD subscribers are extremely valuable to operators, which is why we’re seeing HD service deals to go with those discount big-screen TVs. Comcast has an offer out now in my local area for 12 months of free HD when you buy their triple-play package.
Third, service providers are looking at the upcoming broadcast digital transition as a major opportunity to convert OTA TV viewers into pay-TV subscribers. Since analog consumers already have to make a change, it’s a good time to reconsider a pay-TV subscription – especially with video packages that now include features like widgets, huge on-demand content libraries, and whole-home DVR.
I’m don’t think we’ll see a price war among service providers, but the confluence of a down economy, massive discounts on HD sets, and the digital TV transition may result in some nice video service deals through the end of 2008.