Saturday, October 09, 2004

Just Humbly Pointing Out My Own Prescience!

A couple of years ago when I left my cable industry job to strike out on my own, I made a couple of predictions that some of my colleagues thought were nutty:

1. I predicted that for plain old service, without the voice and data bells and whistles...cable would lose out to satellite in a big way. I had made my own conversion to satellite, and could see NO reason to choose cable for video. Digital means really digital in the satellite world, not just for the premium channels. And you have all the same choice, if not more. And I've never had a moment's reception trouble, even in the wind and the rain. And yes, California does see some winds. And it's cheaper.

This Multichannel News article [registration required] basically confirms that cable is losing basic subs. Their basic cable penetration rate is down to less than 55%. That's pretty amazing.

Now the cable guys are taking the typical head in the sand approach and saying, "oh we're only losing those old, cheap basic cable subs that don't spend much money anyways." Not that they're backing that claim up with stats, mind you. And hello? Not an old basic cable gal right here, and neither are my friends...and yet we ALL have switched to satellite.

Oh, and guys? You gotta have the customer to upsell them to more expensive services. I've ranted before about the idiocy of Comcast penalizing their high speed data customers who discontinue video service. They tack on a huge bump to their data bill. You know what does? It incents them to move over to DSL, just like my folks did.

We are not in a monopoly situation anymore. Most urban and suburban areas now actually can choose...between satellite and cable, between DSL and cable modem.

Cable needs to stop acting like the dominant player, and start acting like a scrappy competitor.

And that's something I've been saying for ages now.

So, what was my second nutty prediction? That ultimately cable would lose not only to satellite, but telcos too. The telcos will solve their bandwidth issues, and they will win with their greater receptiveness to both bundling and a la carte service offerings.

Besides, you've never heard anyone hate their phone company the way they hate their cable company, have you?

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