The New York Times sparked quite a debate yesterday with a piece by Matt Richtel and Brian Stelter on why Americans are sticking with pay-TV services. Ironically, SNL Kagan also published Q2 numbers yesterday showing that the number of overall pay-TV subscribers dropped for the first time ever in the recent quarter. So indications for the pay-TV model are mixed. However, what is becoming clear are the reasons consumers like the current model, and what could make them switch to an alternative.
Convenience is a big factor in pay-TV’s favor. Everything is in one place, easily accessible right on the living-room screen. It’s also (virtually) always there – the entertainment equivalent to the dial tone. And there’s a lot of good live sports and premium content that’s still not available elsewhere.
On the other side, consumers are paying a lot to get pay-TV services, and some of the current drawbacks are irksome. Content management is a problem. It’s still hard to find stuff across linear TV, VOD, and DVR recordings. And increasingly, consumers also want access to content across multiple screens. In addition, there’s some compelling Internet-based content that’s not available yet from TV service providers. Integration with over-the-top content can’t come fast enough.
The pay-TV model has a lot going for it, but it’s also a good thing that providers are continuing to up their game. The more providers can manage the TV experience effectively for consumers, making it easy to get everything they need from one service, the more they can make a compelling case for consumers to stick around. It’s a pretty easy equation.
Want another opinion? Here’s a round-up of some of the coverage in the wake of the Times article.
Technologizer: In (Reluctant) Defense of Cable TV
NewTeeVee: The Future of TV is Not on Cable