The Pay-TV Industry’s Long Game


Let’s jump straight in. Linear TV is dead because online VOD services are what people want. This headline from 2014 was a typical attack on broadcasting –

“Netflix CEO says broadcast TV will be dead in 16 years.”

Just recently and six years into that prediction, Netflix started a LINEAR TV service akin to broadcast, online (in France). Streaming linear is now the norm for many online services. In the end, and to please most of the viewing population, you have to create small changes to existing habits and please as many people as possible with different access choices. I have discussed this often in previous posts. To gain volume viewership, you have to satisfy a vast demographic, and many people don’t want to spend 20 minutes searching for content, which is the norm in streaming – Linear is convenient and has been in the market using the good old EPG since 1981.

DAZN, who professed to be the new ‘Netflix of sport,’ talked about their LINEAR service offering just a few days ago in a conference and added insight into why they are signing up with Pay-TV Service providers. Their streaming dream and takeover of sports stuttered to a halt, exacerbated by COVID with the lack of live events. However, before COVID, DAZN was already struggling, and when the pandemic really hit, they immediately sought investors to shore up the company. The volte-face of the ‘Netflix of Sports’ and D2C disruptor was a pragmatic move and a strategy change needed to keep the DAZN legs pumping.

Broadcast TV isn’t dead nor dying; it is merely morphing and has another medium (the Internet) upon which it rides. Pay-TV is TV that you pay for but the phrase is often used to describe the traditional cable and satellite service bundles are now aggregating streaming service as channels or additional VOD stores. Its all going to look the same soon.

In fact in the USA the ATSC 3.0 NextgenTV will be an IP Stream over the air, which means that they will have the ability to offer streaming-like service. 5G will too look to be the new TV ‘high-speed-access-to-the-home.’ While all of this is good for consumers the business model of TV remains as complicated as ever – You have to pay for access to premium content (Pay-TV) – unless it is funded by another method such as advertising.

The difference today is that you can take as little or as much content as you want, depending on your budget (not necessarily desires). Consumers are simply giving up on certain pay-walled content or pirating it in this complex a la carte landscape. The technology boundaries are blurring – how long will it be before the subscription costs start blurring, and we have a market that levels out price-wise … not long methinks.

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