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Cable Exec Suggests Changing Consumer Behavior, Not Business Model 675

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the customers-should-like-what-we-want-them-to-like dept.
Techdirt has pointed out yet another cable exec that just doesn't quite get it. Comcast's COO, Steve Burke, recently urged the TV industry to find ways to "get consumers to change" rather than figure out better methods to cater to demand. "'An entire generation is growing up, if we don't figure out how to change that behavior so it respects copyright and subscription revenue on the part of distributors, we're going to wake up and see cord cutting.' How many consumers, in any market, are focused on 'respecting' vendors' revenue streams? How, exactly, does he propose to effect this sea change? And why not just develop products that consumers will willingly pay for, rather than trying to change consumer behavior in such a fundamental way?"
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Cable Exec Suggests Changing Consumer Behavior, Not Business Model

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  • dinero (Score:5, Insightful)

    by digitalsushi (137809) <slashdot@digitalsushi.com> on Friday November 06, 2009 @03:00PM (#30007968) Journal

    If I was making 2.2 million dollars a year salary [forbes.com] I would probably say exactly what my bosses wanted to hear, too.

    • I hereby declare that I'm willing to do exactly this for half that price!
      Any takers?

      Hello?!

      • by shakuni (644197) on Friday November 06, 2009 @04:02PM (#30008828)

        the arrogance of the tech community at slashdot it quite astounding.. what makes you think you can really do whatever he does at half the price... I am not saying that this guy is great shakes but being the COO of a multi-billion dollar company is not an easy job at all and takes very different skills from being a tech whiz. Have you carried any revenue targets ever in your life ? This post has been marked funny but it is time that slashdotters understand that running a business is tough.

        • by BitZtream (692029) on Friday November 06, 2009 @04:11PM (#30008922)

          Some of us have done what he does, for 5-10% of his price. Beyond a certain point in the size of a business your actual roll, responsibilities and work load no longer increase, you delegate. Since he doesn't actually assume more responsibility by working at a larger company, then yes, some of us are capable.

          It may be different if he was somehow going to be held to a higher standard, but he isn't, its just the opposite actually. If he fails, he will get treated no differently than I would. Actually thats not true, he has a golden parachute and someone else would be more than happy to hire him elsewhere, ignoring his failure, because he 'knows people'.

          Being the COO of a multi-billion dollar company is no different than being the COO from a multi-million dollar company, contrary to what you would expect.

          • by dgatwood (11270) on Friday November 06, 2009 @04:23PM (#30009118) Journal

            Easier, even. With a multi-million-dollar company, it's small enough that if you screw up, you might bankrupt the company. That means that you have to be at least moderately familiar with what's going on in the company. With a multi-billion-dollar company, you have a dozen divisions that are each multi-million-dollar companies, each run by someone who has to think the same way.

            Up a tier, however, the management of each division is left to the VP for the division. Half the time, the CEO doesn't even know what the company makes. It really doesn't matter at that level. They just have to know enough to understand what the VP means when they ask the VP why the division is losing money and when they expect to get back on track, or at least enough to know if they're getting a snow job from their underlings....

            Tell you what, put me in charge of such a cable company at 10% of this clown's salary. I'll show you how it's done. The right fix for cable companies is to tear down about ten layers of management between the top brass and the people who know what's going on, spend money on building out data infrastructure further, and finding new services to offer that make your offerings more attractive. I have many ideas for new services that I'd roll out if I were running a cable company, any one of which would make a huge difference in users' lives and would significantly cut down on piracy by doing so. Of course, the notion of piracy when you have a cable signal coming in at a flat rate is absurd anyway, and always has been....

        • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 06, 2009 @04:39PM (#30009340)
          The arrogance of the business community is far worse. How can anyone honestly believe someones skills could be worth 2.2 million per year? Are his skills really that rare? Or maybe it's because big business leadership is an exclusive club where friends reward friends with huge sums of money?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jebrew (1101907)

          ...but it is time that slashdotters understand that running a business into the ground by failing to adapt is tough.

          FTFY

        • by databyss (586137) on Friday November 06, 2009 @05:03PM (#30009664) Homepage Journal

          How about I try it out for a year? If it doesn't work out, I'll take my $10 million golden parachute and jump out. Sounds fair to me.

        • by david_thornley (598059) on Friday November 06, 2009 @06:04PM (#30010438)

          I assure you I could run a multi-billion dollar company at least as well as some CEOs have in the past few years (I could manage to put it into a steep decline, not a precipitous one), and I'd charge less.

        • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Friday November 06, 2009 @06:08PM (#30010482)

          Shakani,
          In china, there are 1,200 equally qualified people to the executive in question. With such a gross oversupply of talent, the only reason we are paying these bozo's extra is that the current shareholder laws have removed all shareholder power to do anything about it.

          Likewise, with regard to the article, there is an *ENORMOUS* amount of entertainment. This presents two problems for the potential consumer.

          a) Most of us are able to spend, maybe, $200 to $400 a month on entertainment. Filling an Ipod would take $10,000. Do the math. Consumers are not going to cripple their life to fill an ipod. They will find a way around that price point. Once they *lose* the songs on the ipod and are asked to lay down ANOTHER $10,000 for the same songs- they get really pissy. yet this is the primary goal of the entertainment industry- rental payments anytime you use any entertainment until "forever-- less one day".

          b) On the flip side, the sheer amount of entertainment is exploding. I spent 3 hours the other night just watching homemade stuff for free on Youtube. And there were a couple hours spent watching Star Wreck. There are cable stations with real programs, there are multiple real programs, which I'll never see. I ruthlessly trade down to less expensive entertainment and, in many cases, simply wait 6 to 8 months and get the same entertainment for pennies legally. The price of entertainment is not supportable-- too many people want our entertainment dollar.

    • Perspective (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 06, 2009 @03:20PM (#30008240)

      And why not just develop products that consumers will willingly pay for, rather than trying to change consumer behavior in such a fundamental way?"

      Because he feels the same way you do. You don't seem at all eager to adapt your behavior to the terms on which products are being marketed. You instead want to force the providers to change.

      So, you don't want to change, you just want to do things your way and force others to change. The provider also doesn't want to change. They want to do things their way and force you to change.

      Both parties want to give little and receive much. Consumers want to pay little and get lots of high quality content. Providers want to expend few resources in content provision and receive lots of money.

      I'd say the two groups are more alike than different. One just has more members than the other.

      • Re:Perspective (Score:5, Insightful)

        by iamacat (583406) on Friday November 06, 2009 @03:42PM (#30008514)

        Oh, consumers are willing to change all right. We are willing to stop consuming - legally or otherwise - expensive music and movies ridden with restrictions that do not work for our lifestyles. I saw like 2 movies in the theater in the two years after our first child was born and, now that the "prove that we still can" feeling is out of the way, were are not going again for at least another 3 years. Had they offered the movies on our home TV, we would have payed and watched. But we are not going to buy a new, enhanced DRM TV just to have a privilege of paying more money for the movies. Similarly, I bought a few DVDs for my daughter, but they show 15 minutes worth of unskippable, not age appropriate ads and then get stuck on the menu rather than automatically playing the content. I think I will just teach her to play with other toys or watch free cartoons from broadcast TV rather then going through the hassle of trying to burn a fixed copy with complicated tools or buying expensive hardware to stream H264. I can buy some nice bikes and dolls for the same money.

        If producers are similarly ready to stop producing and go out of business, we are truly more a like and different. I can save my money for family trips to Hawaii and they can ask me "do you want fries with that". It's funny how people who are losing sales fail to consider the simplest explanation rather than assuming that the majority of society is composed of malicious criminals.

        • Re:Perspective (Score:5, Interesting)

          by zzsmirkzz (974536) on Friday November 06, 2009 @03:50PM (#30008636)
          You should check out Transformers 2 on Blu-Ray. I was completely and utterly shocked to see the disk go straight to the movie when popped-in. No FBI warning, no previews, no commercials, no menu, just the movie, starting to play automatically. It was awesome. Now to get all future movies designed in this very way.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by D Ninja (825055)

            You should check out Transformers 2 on Blu-Ray. I was completely and utterly shocked to see the disk go straight to the movie when popped-in. No FBI warning, no previews, no commercials, no menu, just the movie, starting to play automatically. It was awesome. Now to get all future movies designed in this very way.

            Of course, because it was Transformers 2, the fact that it went to the movie right away was the only good part about this particular movie experience...

          • by eln (21727) on Friday November 06, 2009 @03:54PM (#30008712) Homepage

            You should check out Transformers 2 on Blu-Ray. I was completely and utterly shocked to see the disk go straight to the movie when popped-in. No FBI warning, no previews, no commercials, no menu, just the movie, starting to play automatically. It was awesome.

            The proper way for your Blu-Ray player to handle a Transformers 2 disc is to eject it immediately at high velocity, causing it to shatter on the opposite wall. That would have been much better than jumping straight to the movie.

          • by Naturalis Philosopho (1160697) on Friday November 06, 2009 @03:55PM (#30008722)

            Not to put too fine a point on it, but their marketing research probably found that anyone who wanted to watch Transformers 2 on Blu-Ray probably couldn't figure out the menus and would return the disk after 2 minutes without explosions before the movie started.

            Yeah, that was a joke, and it was funny for everyone except you.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by zippthorne (748122)

            Unfortunately, you have to sit through a pretty boring two and a half hour ad for plastic dolls made by Hasbro...

          • Re:Perspective (Score:4, Insightful)

            by iamacat (583406) on Friday November 06, 2009 @04:14PM (#30008986)

            Like I am going to spend $200+ on a Blu Ray player for my 2 year old daughter's $240 TV with a built in DVD player, much less for each room where we might need an hour of diversion. Even then, who is to say that they will release "Dora the Explorer" on Blu Ray, for a reasonable price, and without ads for PG13 movies?

            I just wish they made a few DVDs with 6 episodes each that automatically start and play in infinite loop as soon as inserted. I already have episodes from iTunes, but these would require an $220 Apple TV in every room and the damn thing loses network connection and thus triggers tamper tantrums every time microwave is started. Bottom line, someone hates making money and makes the simplest thing overwhelmingly complicated, annoying and expensive. The cartoons already play free on Nickelodeon. Just sell watermarked videos for $2/each and get done with it.

        • Re:Perspective (Score:4, Informative)

          by Absolut187 (816431) on Friday November 06, 2009 @03:53PM (#30008682) Homepage

          Slysoft's AnyDVD + CloneDVD makes it real easy to remove the "unskippable" BS from DVDs.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Obfuscant (592200)
          Oh, consumers are willing to change all right. We are willing to stop consuming - legally or otherwise - expensive music and movies ridden with restrictions that do not work for our lifestyles.

          Apparently, not enough of you are stopping.

          I saw like 2 movies in the theater in the two years after our first child was born ...

          The last theater I went to was for Serenity. I don't remember the last one before that. Theaters don't seem to have noticed my absence.

          Had they offered the movies on our home TV, we wo

          • Re:Perspective (Score:4, Informative)

            by DinDaddy (1168147) on Friday November 06, 2009 @04:58PM (#30009604)


            That makes me think you are angry at the wrong people. Why do you blame the DVD authors? Why do you put up with DVD players that you cannot control? Aren't they the real problem?

            The people who put the flags on the DVD ttat don't let you skip things are the same people who wrote a DVD licensing agreement which CE manufacturers must sign in order to make DVD players. So he is, in fact, angry at the correct people.

            There is another way around them besides ripping and stripping. My DVD player has UOPs disabled through some hacked firmware. All buttons work all the time.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by N3Bruce (154308)

          They have been trying to alter our behavior for years

          It's not like there is not much content worth pirating on cable anyway, at least on basic cable. They have already watered down the content of once popular and worthwhile channels such as MTV, VH1, Discovery, and the History Channel, so that you pretty much have to upgrade a tier to actually get music videos or real science and history programs instead of mostly reality programming. Don't even get me started about the commercials and self promotion spots

      • Re:Perspective (Score:5, Insightful)

        by camperdave (969942) on Friday November 06, 2009 @03:43PM (#30008532) Journal
        Perhaps you're forgetting the fundamental law of free markets: The customer is always right. If the bulk of customers want X and you offer Y, then don't be surprised when some other vendor comes along offering X and winds up with all the customers. As the vendor, you either offer what the customer wants, at the price they want it, or you go out of business.
        • Re:Perspective (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Red Flayer (890720) on Friday November 06, 2009 @04:01PM (#30008808) Journal

          Perhaps you're forgetting the fundamental law of free markets: The customer is always right.

          That's not the fundamental law of free markets. That's the fundamental law of customer service.

          The fundamental law of free markets is: there is no such thing as an ideal free market.

          But that's semantics, the meat of your post is:

          As the vendor, you either offer what the customer wants, at the price they want it, or you go out of business.

          And the foundation of TFA is that it's possible to change what the customer wants. This is what marketing is all about.

          The big 3 automakers were successful at this for a very long time. When they were no longer able to shape demand, then they failed because they were unprepared for what people actually wanted to buy. But it amazes me that they were so successful for so long.

        • Re:Perspective (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Princeofcups (150855) <john@princeofcups.com> on Friday November 06, 2009 @04:13PM (#30008960) Homepage

          Perhaps you're forgetting the fundamental law of free markets: The customer is always right. If the bulk of customers want X and you offer Y, then don't be surprised when some other vendor comes along offering X and winds up with all the customers. As the vendor, you either offer what the customer wants, at the price they want it, or you go out of business.

          Unless you are a monopoly. Unless you get the laws changed in your favor. Unless you use strong arm tactics to buy out your competition or put them out of business. Unless you steal all your competition's employees. Unless your marketing is so strong the consumer cannot make an educated decision. Unless you undercut all other stores until you are the only one left. Etc. Etc.

        • Re:Perspective (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Jason Levine (196982) on Friday November 06, 2009 @04:16PM (#30009012)

          I think you missed the memo. The new fundamental law of free markets is: If the bulk of customers want X and you offer Y, then you lobby the government to make X illegal and raise the price of Y. Then you complain to your bought and paid for government officials that Y is still not selling and you need more power to force consumers to buy Y and raise the penalties on purchasing, owning, or even thinking about X. After all, customers' refusal to buy Y clearly indicates that they are all buying X illegally and the only reason for a customer's existence is to funnel money into your pockets.

          (The sad thing is, this could be modded as Funny or Insightful and either would be true.)

      • Re:Perspective (Score:5, Insightful)

        by whoever57 (658626) on Friday November 06, 2009 @03:44PM (#30008552) Journal

        Because he feels the same way you do. You don't seem at all eager to adapt your behavior to the terms on which products are being marketed. You instead want to force the providers to change.

        Yes, I do expect the providers to change.

        I, and other customers have something Comcast needs: subscription revenue. In order to obtain that revenue Comcast must provide something of value to me. If Comcast wants me to change my behavior, it has to provide a compelling reason for the change. Comcast must provide some benefit to me to induce my change of behavior.

        This exec shows no inclination of providing any benefit in return for any change of behavior, so why should I (and millions of other customers) change our behavior?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by socrplayr813 (1372733)

        If you were talking about almost any other situation, I'd probably agree with you, except that the one group exists solely to provide content to the other group. If the group that exists to provide content is not providing the content in a manner that is acceptable to the consuming group, then they are unnecessary and by rights should no longer exist, at least not in their current form.

        No, I'm not saying we should necessarily get rid of the cable companies, but apply the same rules to all service industrie

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by thoth (7907)

        So, you don't want to change, you just want to do things your way and force others to change. The provider also doesn't want to change. They want to do things their way and force you to change.

        This is a bit of a false dichotomy... another solution you overlooked is: 3rd party comes along with some better alternative than the existing provider.

        This is what I did concerning my cable subscription, as of a few months ago. I don't have a problem with cable TV - I paid for it and enjoyed it, for years. It's just that the cost increases finally "broke the camels back" for me, and made me take a hard look at what I was consuming, what alternatives there were, all weighed against how necessary their pro

  • "It's better for millions of people to change instead of a couple thousand! I know because I'm COO! Say it twice! COOCOO!"

    • Crap article, again. (Score:5, Informative)

      by NotBornYesterday (1093817) * on Friday November 06, 2009 @03:21PM (#30008252) Journal

      I was all ready to pop out a funny, pithy comment like "Cable Consumer Suggests Changing Cable Exec", but decided to RTFA (yeah, stupid me, here, let me turn in my geek card ...), when I realized that it's just a bunch of manufactured hype. The Techdirt article that the Slashdot article is based on is based on is a piece of crap. Here's a link to the original article [broadcastingcable.com] rather than the Techdirt regurgitation.

      I get the feeling this guy is being quoted somewhat out of context. Techdirt goes on a rant about how the cable companies need to develop new business models, not just beat up consumers. From a quick glance at the www.broadcastingcable.com article, it appears that he's saying that if cable doesn't evolve their business models, they'll bet run over by internet-based content providers. The original article discussed targeted ad content and better-than-Nielsen viewing measurement as future directions cable could move in to improve their business model. So, yeah, the Techdirt guy has his head up his ass.

      Now, with that being said, I'm sure that whatever "new" business models the cable companies dream up will largely consist of overcharging consumers, providing crappy service, and extending DRM tentacles into everything they touch, and hence won't really be seen as a win here on Slashdot, and certainly won't be all that different from their current customer abuse.

  • WE must change? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 06, 2009 @03:01PM (#30007992)

    I'm sorry it is your business model that needs to change, not US.
    There were many fine works when copyright didn't even exist; hell, if copyright existed, we wouldn't have had Shakespeare's.
    Well, if they expect to live off the same franchises over and over in perpetuity, and not really work, I can see where their problem is.
    After all, it's all men in suits who would kill themselves just for money.

    • Re:WE must change? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by swanzilla (1458281) on Friday November 06, 2009 @03:25PM (#30008298) Homepage
      Inadvertently correct...

      There were many fine works when copyright didn't even exist; hell, if copyright existed, we wouldn't have had Shakespeare's.

      We would have had Bacon's.

    • Re:WE must change? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) on Friday November 06, 2009 @03:26PM (#30008314) Journal
      I would have modded the story a troll, if possible. There are two ways of looking at things that are not contradictory. Changing business plans and changing consumer behavior. While he is proposing to change consumer behavior, obviously the only way he has to do that is through their product line up ( ie changing his business model). Like the whole super sizing of popcorn at movie theaters. its 4.59 for small (8 oz), 4.75 for a medium (12 oz), or 4.80 for a large(24 oz). The product is set up to sell a large volume of popcorn. If he made all sizes an equal price per oz, then that would likely change consumer behavior towards buying smaller sizes of popcorn. In fact the current model was designed to get people to buy popcorn at a high price, but think of it as a value. Tricky, huh.

      So the business model will most definitely change, but most likely not in a way that will make any of us ( with brains ) happy. Then agian, I don't watch tv much. Already pulled that plug a while ago.
  • No?

    -consumer

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 06, 2009 @03:03PM (#30008006)

    And make your money on touring.

    • by Kethinov (636034) on Friday November 06, 2009 @03:07PM (#30008058) Homepage Journal

      Just release TV shows for free

      And make your money on touring.

      Hardy har, so funny. Or maybe instead they could make their money the way broadcast television has successfully done so for longer than most of us have been alive? Hint: advertising does actually work. Then just offer a subscription service to folks who don't want to see ads. Easy as pie. Shame the cable companies are too busy double dipping (subscription AND ads) to realize consumers hate it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by pentalive (449155)
        Sure advertising works, nobody would ever install Add-Block or use the pop-up blockers that are popular in many web browsers.
      • by Itninja (937614) on Friday November 06, 2009 @03:26PM (#30008308) Homepage
        Advertising doesn't work for me. I use a DVR to skip all commercials all the time. Maybe product placement works a little. I know that for the next month I will laugh whenever I see a Cisco logo because of last nights 30 Rock. So I guess we can call that 'working'.
        • by killmenow (184444) on Friday November 06, 2009 @03:50PM (#30008644)

          But advertising does work, period. Not all ads work. But in general, companies pay billions of dollars to advertise because it makes them billions more. If it didn't, advertising wouldn't be a multi-billion-dollar industry. Even people with DVRs are not fast forwarding through commercials as much as producers and advertisers feared. Now, there's no guarantee people are watching those commercials. My twelve year old daughter likes for me to mute the commercials and we take turns making up our own audio. It's usually a lot of "look at this car. isn't it a cool car. it costs more than you can afford. Look at it drive in ways you can't safely drive. it's an awesome car you can't have...and here's a cute girl...sell everything you own and buy our car."

          I'm always at a loss for what to say when the Cialis commercials come on.

  • It's both (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Knara (9377) on Friday November 06, 2009 @03:03PM (#30008010)

    On one hand, yes, media companies (and indies, etc) should develop things that people are willing to pay for, instead of putting out remakes and rehashes on a regular basis (i.e. Fark's "In yet another sign that Hollywood has truly run out of new ideas...")

    On the other hand, there's no real ethical or legal excuse for pirating something, simply because you don't like the price of it. If you don't like the quality of the offering at the price it is offered, then don't buy it. It's quite simple.

    I now expect 4 dozen posts, making car analogies, expounding on the "false" argument of lost sales, and pointing out that I'm likely an astroturfing RIAA/MPAA shill.

    Have fun!

    • On the other hand, there's no real ethical or legal excuse for pirating something, simply because you don't like the price of it.

      Because...it was there.

    • by MrMista_B (891430) on Friday November 06, 2009 @03:18PM (#30008212)

      You're not an RIAA/MPAA shill, but after:

      "I now expect 4 dozen posts, making car analogies, expounding on the "false" argument of lost sales, and pointing out that I'm likely an astroturfing RIAA/MPAA shill.

      Have fun!"

      you're definitely trolling. :)

  • by winkydink (650484) * <sv.dude@gmail.com> on Friday November 06, 2009 @03:03PM (#30008018) Homepage Journal

    Ask any IT professional what's the hardest thing to change?

    User behavior.

    Technology is supposed to make out lives easier, not the other way around.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 06, 2009 @03:12PM (#30008136)

      Ask any IT professional what's the hardest thing to change?

      User behavior.

      Well, in my experience, I've found that really depends on how hard you hit them.

  • Nothing new (Score:3, Interesting)

    by idiot900 (166952) * on Friday November 06, 2009 @03:04PM (#30008030)

    Changing customers' behavior is exactly what advertising and marketing are meant to accomplish. It's just usually aimed at getting people to buy your product. Here, instead of "Buy our $FOO now!" the message is "Don't download our $FOO!". I don't see why I should be angrier about this than about advertising in general.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bigjarom (950328)
      Advertising yes, marketing no. Good marketing (including market research) allows a company to realize that the customer doesn't care about the specific product they sell, but rather about the benefit that it provides. Cable companies provide entertainment. Customers don't care how they get that entertainment. The cable exec from the article doesn't understand this. Classic example is Xerox shifting from photocopy machines to 'Document Management.'
    • by amplt1337 (707922)

      This is because they've been screwing up for years.
      Their marketing efforts have all been directed towards "Want our $FOO!"
      Only now are they realizing, no, they really meant "BUY our $FOO!" That's a much harder sell, because people naturally have an inclination to want things, and don't naturally have an inclination to pay for them.

  • Might I be the first (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ericrost (1049312) on Friday November 06, 2009 @03:04PM (#30008034) Homepage Journal

    Might I be the first to give a gigantic "Whoosh!" in Comcast's general direction. I cut that cord a few years ago and with the help of MythTV, Boxee, Hauppage, Turtle Beach, Netflix, and Xbox Live have never looked back for a second.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Itninja (937614)
      And the Internet connection required to make any of that less than worthless come from where exactly?
    • by jpmorgan (517966) on Friday November 06, 2009 @03:20PM (#30008238) Homepage
      Absolutely. They missed the boat by 5-10 years. Had they started offering convenient digital services instead of stubbornly trying to protect their existing, entrenched businesses, they probably could have transitioned people into a new business model back when everybody was still used to paying through the nose for content. But no, that would require work, and vision, and why would you do that when you're making money hand over fist and the good times will never end?

      So yeah, just another industry that failed to adapt to change when they had the opportunity. Well, you missed it buddy.
  • by plover (150551) * on Friday November 06, 2009 @03:05PM (#30008042) Homepage Journal

    If nothing changes, producers will stop producing when they realize they'll never make back their $250 millon in production costs. The cable companies won't be able to keep subscribers if all they're showing are Gilligan's Island reruns. They'll be poorer and we'll be richer as a result. Is there still a problem?

    • Is there still a problem?

      ACTA. If legislation makes them more money than actually producing stuff that's what they'll go for.

    • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Friday November 06, 2009 @03:21PM (#30008248)

      ...if all they're showing are Gilligan's Island reruns

      I'm hoping for a Gilligan's Island "reboot". Something darker and edgy. Too bad Chris Farley is dead, he would have made an awesome, cocaine addicted Skipper. I would still download torrents of it instead of paying for cable, because I believe great art should be a labor of love, unsullied by commercial interests :-D

  • He's Right! (Score:4, Funny)

    by smitty777 (1612557) on Friday November 06, 2009 @03:06PM (#30008052) Journal

    We should all change to meet his business goals. You all need to stop being so self centered.

  • Entitlement (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sqrt(2) (786011) on Friday November 06, 2009 @03:08PM (#30008076) Journal

    The sense of entitlement is sickening. No business has a right to make profit, and I certainly don't have to "recpect" their revenue stream. This generation grew up wanting certain things, the dinosaurs in the content industries refused to adapt and now people are used to getting music, movies, and games they want for free. There are now millions of people who will go their entire lives without purchasing much content, and they were created by the greed and incompetence of the RIAA/MPAA and friends.

    • Re:Entitlement (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AcidPenguin9873 (911493) on Friday November 06, 2009 @03:30PM (#30008382)

      Entitlement goes both ways. The entire generation you speak of feels entitled to enjoy free content because its *distribution cost* and *replication cost* is $0. The creation cost for the content has always been, and will always be, non-zero, but it was always amortized into the distribution cost. Distribution via broadcasting always brought in advertising revenue, which covered all the costs. Distribution via BitTorrent brings in $0 in revenue and covers no costs. [1]

      This generation grew up wanting certain things, the dinosaurs in the content industries refused to adapt and now people are used to getting music, movies, and games they want for free.

      I disagree. There is iTunes/Amazon for music, Hulu for TV (*even* if they go to a subscription model), Netflix on demand for movies. I would say lots of good content is now available on-demand, via the Internet, pretty easy to get to. The business models weren't going to change in the one year that Napster came out. It's taken 10 years. But it has happened. The only thing that hasn't happened is content creators giving away stuff for $0, and if these creators are going to stay in business, I don't see how that's ever going to happen.

      Look, everyone here can make up plenty of reasons for why they deserve free content, but in a capitalist economy I have yet to hear a single good one. "Live performance" isn't good enough. Many TV shows that I enjoy can't be live. Software developers should *not* have to go on speaking tours to make money, like that ridiculous study out of Harvard said they should. I do not want to go to a book reading.

      [1] As an aside, I fully support the notion that *distributors* should get much less of the money. They are just a pipe, a utility for the content creators to sell their content. No one on Slashdot ever wants to make the distinction between distributors, who are invariably big media conglomerates that are easy to hate, and content creators, who might be a team of talented writers and actors and filmmakers that actually produce enjoyable stuff.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      No one is entitled to violate copyrights because they disagree with the business model. They are entitled to simple abstain from buying (and therefore owning) the content.
  • I don't care for commercials and I want to watch my programs at my convenience. That's really all that has changed.

    Is it really that huge a leap for Cable Companies to figure out how to supply a video-on-demand only service?

  • by ChipMonk (711367) on Friday November 06, 2009 @03:10PM (#30008104) Journal
    Microsoft proves it can be done with every release of Windows.
  • ...I'm guessing he is correct. Its the spin being put on what he is saying that is outrageous:

    The quotes really are quite stunning. Burke basically seems to be saying the focus needs to be on figuring out ways to get consumers to change, rather than changing to match what customers want. A business model based on going against what consumers want doesn't seem likely to last that long.

    What I'm stunned by is the assumption that Comcast's COO should be looking for ways to give people as much content as they want without them paying Comcast a penny to receive it. Because lets be fair - this is exactly what customers want.

    To color every contrary desire as stunning or greedy is just ignorant.

  • by IndustrialComplex (975015) on Friday November 06, 2009 @03:11PM (#30008126)

    It's a bit too late, you missed our generation, and it has already spread to our parents (who are pissed that their TVs now require several boxes and don't just 'work') and our children certainly aren't going to 'rebel' by embracing the corporate message.

    The only way to earn respect is by showing respect. And, last I checked, my television/vidcard/cablebox/musicplayer/gameconsole all don't seem to want to trust me or each other. I'll continue to go with the more convenient, fully compatible, more functional, product.

    When my iPhone decides it won't try to automatically erase itself after I reinstall my OS,
    When my cable box outputs an unencrypted signal... hell, when I don't need to rent cable boxes just to access channels my TV can technically display,
    When I can install a new hard disk in my game console without thrashing the firmware...

    Start with that, and then I'll listen again. At that point, then we can discuss some of the other built in annoyances you have contrived.

  • Segmented Marketing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kate6 (895650) on Friday November 06, 2009 @03:14PM (#30008154) Homepage

    When you go to the supermarket to buy a particular product... Let's say KETCHUP... You'll usually find you have several different brands available to you. The more expensive name brands are usually placed right at eye level, whereas the least expensive store brands are usually on the bottom shelf, where you're only likely to notice them if you're really looking for a deal. This is called SEGMENTED MARKETING. The name brand is targeted to the people who have the high-stress, well-paying jobs and don't have the time or energy to try to find the best deals. But the best deals are still available for those who need them.

    I'm yet to see cable companies and "content providers" doing anything equivalent. But they really ought to. The vast majority of people who spend time and energy on piracy are students and low-income people who couldn't buy the content legitimately. People who have active, stressful lives and who make enough money will frequently fork over the money for legitimate copies of the content they're interested in just because it's less of a hassle to do so.

    What cable companies and content providers ought to be doing is trying to come up with that deal saving "store brand" version of their content. The content that could still appeal even to the starving college students and minimum wage slaves that they'd consider shelling out a few bucks on it here and there.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by berashith (222128)

      for legitimate copies of the content they're interested in just because it's less of a hassle to do so.

      Unfortunately, this is where you are wrong. Things have gotten so out of sorts that it is often less of a hassle to use the non-legitimate version. The problem with these companies is that the legitimate version costs more, can be less reliable, and comes with burdens and accusations. I am left wondering why I would bother to pay them when they add zero value to the transaction.

  • by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Friday November 06, 2009 @03:17PM (#30008202) Homepage Journal

    ... I say maybe I'll start to worry about what is fair to you a little bit when you start to worry about the level of service given to ME.

    The corporations of the U.S. are not monarchy (yet) so it's not our job to make sure you live high on the hog. Maybe if you treated me like a customer I would feel some loyalty.

  • by Absolut187 (816431) on Friday November 06, 2009 @03:21PM (#30008262) Homepage

    Yeah, it sucks that your days of monopoly profits are near an end. NOT.

    The only reason cable companies could historically charge the ridiculous fees for TV service is because the only real alternative has been an expensive satellite dish. But with digitization the cost of delivering content is going way down.

    Cable companies have to charge competitive rates for internet access because of DSL.

    With Netflix streaming I can stream thousands of movies and TV shows - with zero advertising - to my PC, XBOX, or PS3 - all for about $15 - $20/month, plus about $40 for the internet connection that I already pay for. Then there is Hulu, Youtube, etc. etc. And DSL works almost as good cable internet for all of these applications.

    Meanwhile, cable companies want to charge $150/month for basically the *exact* *same* *service*. They don't create the content, they just provide the tube. AFAIK, 0% of the money we pay to the cable company goes to the creators of the shows we watch. It all just goes to the cable company to pay for the tube. Their only real cost is maintenance on existing coax. They charge me to rent the cable box equipment. And the content all has advertising to pay the actual creators.

    Basically, cable companies are used to getting $150+/month monopoly profits out of consumers who have very few other options. Soon they are only going to get the $40-$50/month competitive rate for the internet connection.

    I guess competition sucks if you're a monopolist.
        Boo hoo.

  • Cut the cord! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LoudMusic (199347) on Friday November 06, 2009 @03:25PM (#30008302)

    Cable TV free and proud, two years running.

    Improve your life. Cancel your subscription.

  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Friday November 06, 2009 @03:26PM (#30008310)

    ... if we don't figure out how to change that behavior so it respects copyright and subscription revenue on the part of distributors ...

    "Respecting copyright" is not really the same thing as "respecting subscription revenue". There are a significant number of people that do respect copyright, even if the typical Slashdot discussion doesn't seem to support that statement. But even if every music and movie "pirate" stopped downloading illegal copies as of today, it wouldn't fix the broken revenue model the music and movie industries still want to cling to - the technology available today has irreparably destroyed their old-school business plan.

  • by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare AT gmail DOT com> on Friday November 06, 2009 @04:29PM (#30009212) Homepage Journal

    before the internet, you were a necessary evil. someone had to distribute the media, and you needed to be respected in order to provide that service. that portion of copyright law that provided for your protections was valid... then

    you have been replace, by the internet

    authors, musicians, directors: they distribute their media for free. it serves only as advertising for their real source of revenue: ancillary streams like advertising, promotion, concerts, the cinema house, pulp copies, specialized content, speaking engagements, movie adaptation deals, etc.

    you are no longer necessary, and the laws that protect you are defunct. the laws that protect you are not pronouncements from god that say the economic model that allowed for your existence is a permanent state of being

    direct artist-consumer links, that is the internet. books, video, music, anything of value that is consumed digitally: its all free. revenue sources are all ancillary streams. ONLY FOR THE ARTIST. NO DISTRIBUTOR NEEDED, SO NO REVENUE FOR YOU

    YOU ARE EXTINCT AND YOUR LAWS ARE DEFUNCT. DEAL WITH IT. FUCK OFF AND DIE ALREADY

  • On Demand (Score:3, Insightful)

    by plazman30 (531348) on Friday November 06, 2009 @04:32PM (#30009242) Homepage

    What people really want it on-demand television. No more channels, just menus of shows to pick from. Haven't DVRs proven that. The only people that seem to get that are the fine folks at Apple, that are working on a subscription service for the TV portion of the iTunes Music Store.

    Heck, Hulu was awesome for that. And it took off. Now they want to charge for it. Entertainment execs still don't get it.

    As you raise prices and gouge consumers, people starting downloading illegally. When you make things more reasonable, like Amazon and Apple did with music, then people come flocking and making money.

    Any belief that people are ignoring copyright now, when they didn't before is folly. If people could have copied LPs back in the 50s, they would have done so. Technology has finally caught up with desire. That's all.

  • by blair1q (305137) on Friday November 06, 2009 @04:43PM (#30009392) Journal

    Your cable company will sell you a DVR, but it doesn't want you to have a copy of anything?

    An entire generation of CEOs has grown up believing utter nonsense about the relative values of money and freedom.

    Apparently, several trillion dollars in collapsed economy hasn't improved their common sense.

  • Too late (Score:3, Interesting)

    by russotto (537200) on Friday November 06, 2009 @04:45PM (#30009416) Journal

    I already cut the cord. And no downloading (legal or otherwise) was responsible. Why? I realized that every show I watched was on the broadcast channels. So why pay $50/month (up to $60 now) for the broadcast channels (available over the air), plus a load of cable channels with nothing I watched on them. There's some good shows on the premium channels, but those few I can get later on a (rented) DVD, at far lower cost.

Aren't you glad you're not getting all the government you pay for now?

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