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Television Advertising Businesses Communications The Almighty Buck Entertainment

Cable Industry Finally Fights Cord Cutting With Fewer Ads (dslreports.com) 106

The cable industry is slowly realizing that more advertisements and higher prices aren't the solution to cord cutting. Karl Bode writes via DSLReports: AT&T and Dish have explored offering cheaper, more flexible streaming alternatives (DirecTV Now and Sling TV, respectively), both understanding that getting out ahead of the cord cutting trend is the right play, even if the net result is making less money from traditional television. And on the broadcasting front, several companies this month made it clear they'll be reducing the ad loads on their programming, since charging users a subscription fee and socking them with endless ads is becoming a dated concept in the cord cutting era. Fox, for example, told the Wall Street Journal this week that the company would be reducing TV ad time in its content to two minutes an hour by 2020. Comcast NBC Universal says it's also following suit, having cut advertising time in its own shows by 10%, and reduced the overall number of advertising during commercial breaks by 20%. Given there's 83 million households still subscribing to traditional cable TV, many cable executives are under the false impression they can keep doubling down on bad ideas without the check coming due. But the data indicates this head in the sand approach simply isn't sustainable. Pay TV providers saw a reduction of more than 500,000 traditional pay TV customers during the fourth quarter, a decline of 3.4% total pay TV customers from the year before. That 3.4% decline was up from the 2% rate during in the fourth quarter of 2016 and a 1% rate of decline one year before that.
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Cable Industry Finally Fights Cord Cutting With Fewer Ads

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  • by Cowclops ( 630818 ) on Friday March 09, 2018 @08:15PM (#56236453)

    I made the decision this week to cut the cord myself and I dropped all my TV equipment today.

    In an industry where high price/low value is cited by 80% of the people dropping their TV service, I was told that I had to pay an extra $60 a month to get a "free" internet speed upgrade to switch from a grandfathered TWC plan to a new spectrum plan with no other benefits. $145->$205.

    Instead I opted to drop tv, drop my bill to $65, and get the "still techncially supposed to be free" bump from 60x5 to 100x10.

    I just don't know how they think people wil pay $140 for Cable TV when there are so many solid alternatives that are under $40 if not under $30 a month (Sling, Hulu, Netflix, Etc).

    • How about a one-time expense of installing an antenna on your house and never pay again? Do you really have so much free time that you need to fill it with passive entertainment?
      • how about buy vpn service and go to the bay for movies/etc?

        apartment complex guy here: no antennas and OTA content mostly sucks anyway. TV content sucks badly, overall.

        I grew up in the 60's and 70's and thought commercials were bad (quantity) back then. its unwatchable now. 100% unwatchable.

        they'll never get me back, even if it was truly free. horse has left the barn and ain't coming back.

        • by blackomegax ( 807080 ) on Saturday March 10, 2018 @01:02AM (#56237503) Journal
          Plus, there's an amazing mental thing that occurs when you cut *all ads* out of your life (to the extent one can, anyway). ublock, netflix-only, pirating, etc. Watching an ad gives some soulless corporate free rent in your mind, sometimes to the tune of HOURS from a 30 second ad. That's time you spend *not being you, but being a corporate drone.*
          • I have a DVR (TiVo, and I've had more than one of them over the last 15 years). I don't see commercials. :-) Truth be told if I lost access to a working DVR and couldn't skip commercials, I'd probably stop watching television completely (mainly because I couldn't watch what I want to watch when I want to watch it). Paying for TV, regardless of whether it's cable or so-called 'streaming', is a non-starter. Just not worth it to me for another monthly bill that will inevitably get more and more expensive as th
        • Get a better place to live, then. :-) I used to live in apartments, I'd never go back to that, it sucks in more ways than just that.
      • by Firethorn ( 177587 ) on Friday March 09, 2018 @11:37PM (#56237237) Homepage Journal

        I live in a fairly rural area and have about 4 non-religious stations within reach. Consider that OTA stations are all advertising supported as well.

        I'd argue that it's just the opposite: I have so little free time that $8/month for a Netflix plan is well worth it.

        https://www.statista.com/stati... [statista.com]

        They say 693 seconds of advertising per hour, average, for broadcast TV. 11 minutes and 33 seconds of ads.
        That is 5 hours, 46 minutes, 30 seconds per month, assuming that you average 1 hour/day.

        Using Netflix as a plan to avoid that? $1.38/hour to avoid advertising. That's less than minimum wage. Worth it.

    • Same here! I dumped my cable TV in mid December. I'm saving $102 a month! Now Spectrum offers me the new $21 pick your channels package, I tore it up and threw it out. YOU BLEW IN SPECTRUM! Suck it!
    • by jon3k ( 691256 )
      Congratulations, seriously. I did the same thing a few years back and it really is a matter of habit. You get so used to having the TV on or making it part of your life. Within a month of not having it you'll wonder why you didn't do it sooner. I certainly learned to really appreciate a nice, quiet home.
  • Buh-bye (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Friday March 09, 2018 @08:17PM (#56236459) Journal

    AT&T and Comcast can just fuck right off. Lower your goddamn prices and improve customer service and then maybe we can talk. And please stop trying to contact me. When I want to talk to you, I'll let you know.

  • What I want... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Archfeld ( 6757 ) <treboreel@live.com> on Friday March 09, 2018 @08:29PM (#56236511) Journal

    I want a 30 channel subscription that allows me to select all 30 stations from a lineup on a 30 day interval. A menu that allows me to checkbox what stations I want and then change them on a monthly basis. You pay a minimum for just basic connectivity, and then a tiered level that allows you to choose the stations YOU want, not some carefully constructed pack that is calculated to spread the popular channels through out 5 packs which in the end costs you the same or more as you would spend on a traditional tiered system. I want the program to be streamed to me at high speed so I can fast forward and reverse even if it is not on my DVR. I want enough memory in my set top box to store 30 minutes of HD video. I would even stomach a few ads, the more targeted the better, I hate watching ads for diapers or baby food, or feminine products. I hate watching an ad for the show I am currently watching...*cough* El Rey Network. I love hockey but what is the point of the NHL network in the offseason, or for that matter what is the point of OWN period ?

    • Re:What I want... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Areyoukiddingme ( 1289470 ) on Friday March 09, 2018 @08:48PM (#56236591)

      I want a 30 channel subscription that allows me to select all 30 stations from a lineup on a 30 day interval.

      Charter is piloting a "Pick 20" a la carte package in my area. A quick scan of the available channels to choose from gave me the impression it didn't completely suck, too, which was a bit of a surprise. I got the mailing because I buy internet but not TV. Haven't in years and years. Still didn't, even with options. The price was definitely much lower than their usual. +$20 instead of +$40 on top of Internet.

      Now if I gave a damn about commercial television, maybe...

    • The concept of a TV station is so dated, screw that. I want shows, not stations, and streaming services like Netflix let me do just that. Also I want ad-free shows, and no ads in the show either; utterly obnoxious. Once again the pirated option is superior.

      • by Archfeld ( 6757 )

        Unless you prefer not to steal. I too would like my choice of entertainment at no cost but that isn't fair or likely to ever happen. I'd settle for an even break, but realize that isn't going to happen.

    • I'm not sure why you think that would save you money. You think NHL network would cost the same in the offseason? Heck, they'll probably give it to you for free.

      Also, what makes you think that all channels will be equally priced. While it seems unfair to have to buy a bundle, I'm not sure it'll be cheaper to buy by the channel.

      • by dwye ( 1127395 )

        You think NHL network would cost the same in the offseason? Heck, they'll probably give it to you for free.

        Actually, if they had any brains, off-season they would pay YOU, just like QVC, HSN, JWL TV, etc. pay your local cable company to include them for pretty much everyone. That way, even if you don't actually watch it, you stay a subscriber; since it stays on the line-up, you at least remind yourself about it, so that when the pre-season starts up you will be watching, as opposed to having to remember to re-subscribe.

  • Fuck them all (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Crypto Gnome ( 651401 ) on Friday March 09, 2018 @08:34PM (#56236539) Homepage Journal
    The entire advertising industry and everyone who depends on them have shown themselves to be unethical , and morally bankrupt. They ALL deseeve to die in a nuclear accident.
    • advertising AND entertainment, which now, sadly, includes 'news'.

      we no longer have news. we have bullshit that is paraded in front of us as 'news'.

      I have zero problems taking what I want from the bay. we all have been raped many times over by the so-called entertainment industry. I am done paying for content. like the 1-percenters that have all decided 'rules don't apply to them'; I figure if its good enough for them, its good enough for me. rules about paying for content don't apply to me anymore. ye

  • No ads (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hambone142 ( 2551854 ) on Friday March 09, 2018 @08:36PM (#56236547)

    I recall buying cable TV because it had NO ADs.

    Now we get to pay to see ads.

    They're cutting their own throats and I have no sympathy for cable companies.

    • The problem is they got into the situation where no solution is a short-term win for the cable companies. The unfortunate truth is that top executives are all about the short term. Their pay packages are all about year over year growth, and winning back customer loyalty is going to cost in the short term. The executives, with this latest charade, are trying to minimize the year-over-year hit by slowly reducing commercial content. Fox is reducing commercial time to 2 minutes per hour, but not until 2020.

      • by Uberbah ( 647458 )

        Boards and shareholders should be stringing the cable execs up by their gonads, because they are the ones who are selling out the companies they work for.

        Aren't boards and shareholders the ones demanding the aforementioned year-over-year growth from the CEO least he be fired and replaced with one that will deliver?

  • Fox, for example, told the Wall Street Journal this week that the company would be reducing TV ad time in its content to two minutes an hour by 2020.

    JFC. I mean JFC.

    Did I mention JFC?

  • I have a driverless car for rent!

    (32,000 people show up)

    "It can't carry them all. What a failure!"

  • by MrKaos ( 858439 ) on Friday March 09, 2018 @08:57PM (#56236639) Journal

    I stopped watching in 2013 because the ads are just too in my face. I started playing a game of, flick the ad off before the message so that I got the art work but not the message until I realised the shows kind of sucked as well.

    The shows that didn't suck I didn't watch because of the ads and waited until they were re-runs that I could binge watch without commercials.

    I think it has had a positive impact on my mental health as well, I feel a lot less stressed since I stopped watching all that crap.

    • by hjf ( 703092 )

      fox latin america is the worst. It's just horrible. They cut scenes off shows, and at the end, squeeze the credits to the side and fast forward them. All to show more ads.
      And even worse, BIG, HUGE LETERS with countdowns:
      29 DAYS, 2 HOURS AND 30 SECONDS UNTIL THE SEASON PREMIERE OF THE WALKING DEAD.
      That sign is up for the whole month, taking about 10% of the screen.
      When the walking dead season premiere is up, the sign is changed:
      WALKING DEAD SEASON PREMIERE.

      • by MrKaos ( 858439 )

        fox latin america is the worst. It's just horrible. They cut scenes off shows, and at the end, squeeze the credits to the side and fast forward them. All to show more ads. And even worse, BIG, HUGE LETERS with countdowns: 29 DAYS, 2 HOURS AND 30 SECONDS UNTIL THE SEASON PREMIERE OF THE WALKING DEAD. That sign is up for the whole month, taking about 10% of the screen. When the walking dead season premiere is up, the sign is changed: WALKING DEAD SEASON PREMIERE.

        fox latin america is the worst. It's just horrible. They cut scenes off shows, and at the end, squeeze the credits to the side and fast forward them. All to show more ads

        It's like looking at crazytown when I see it and people pay for it? Ironic that you mentioned the Walking Dead, I wonder how many people are being zombiefied in front of commercials right now?

        We should be invoicing these companies for our time, but they figured out a way to turn that around so people pay money for ads. People convinced that it's a good way to spend their time however people have spent their time to earn money to pay for ads that consume their time. No one is buying time.

        Come to thi

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The cable model is obsolete. The idea that you have to wait until a specific time to watch a specific program is the result of technological limitations, not because it is better. Now, that limitation no longer exists, and the cable model can only be sustained so long as big business uses its influence to keep an inferior system around, to the customer's detriment. If they don't adapt to changing technology, other services and pirates will.

    • Re: Not enough (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Told my kids we we're going to watch a Christmas special I loved as a kid. Told them we had to wait until Thursday at 6 pm because that is when it's on the local channel. They looked at me like, da fuq?

  • They're only about 10 years too late. They really need to slow down with this extremely reckless rate of change.
    • Re:Much Too Late (Score:5, Informative)

      by StormReaver ( 59959 ) on Friday March 09, 2018 @10:53PM (#56237075)

      They're only about 10 years too late.

      Yep. If they had done this 10 years ago, they might have had a fighting chance. As it is, their service got so bad that they overcame people's resistance to change and drove them to the experiment of dropping the service. Now, dropping service has gotten such a good reputation that the rate of doing so is increasing dramatically.

      If cord cutting hasn't reached critical mass yet, it is so close as to be nearly unavoidable.

      • by Uberbah ( 647458 )

        Yep - it's like when Blockbuster announced they would back off on late fees, when they were already bleeding out from a self-inflicted mortal wound.

  • Fewer ads just isn't going far enough.

    It has to be fewer ad + true a la carte + lower prices + no rental fees for boxes + better customer service + no package requirements for anything, and I mean ANYTHING + access to the service through an app and not a decade out of date box.

    • Fewer ads is a good start, I'd argue for getting rid of cable boxes entirely and better customer service is always good.

      But a la carte wouldn't actually save you money, really. Not in most cases.

      Because they know roughly what the viewerships are. Get channels individually? They ramp up the prices per channel. You end up paying as much as you did for the buffet for just the channels you watch, can't watch something special/unusual on a station you don't normally get (what if your parents come over?), as

      • > But a la carte wouldn't actually save you money, really. Not in most cases.

        Yes, duplicating the entire 500-channel-universe costs more. But if you just want a few channels, it will cost less.

        > Most of the channels you get with the basic package are basically
        > free for the cable company to offer because the channel is ad supported.

        In the USA locals demand, and get, "retransmission payments". Not to mention ESPN +ESPNU+ESPN360 is rammed onto basic and costs the cableco a combined $9/month.

  • by nehumanuscrede ( 624750 ) on Saturday March 10, 2018 @12:18AM (#56237361)

    If they would just cull the " Ask your Doctor if $stupidly_expensive_drug is right for you " ads, it would cut the total ad times by at least HALF.

    No one wants to see that sh*t. I personally make it a point to refuse any medication that constantly begs me to use it.

    • If they would just cull the " Ask your Doctor if $stupidly_expensive_drug is right for you " ads, it would cut the total ad times by at least HALF.

      No one wants to see that sh*t. I personally make it a point to refuse any medication that constantly begs me to use it.

      You can thank the government for that. I had a friend in pharmaceutical sales who was once called in by his boss about his expense account. Seems there was a problem with the numbers; he wasn't spending enough on entertaining doctors. As long as it was legal he could spend money on keeping doctors happy as an entertainment expense. Drs liked cigars? Best cigar bar in town and the drinks and cigars were on him. Medical convention and his MD's wanted to go to a strip club? Lap dances and drinks on him. When t

  • Back in the day when everyone had land lines, once upon a time you actually had to RENT a telephone from the phone company. So you paid for not only the line but the phone too. Just like the cable box. Then someone came up with the bright idea of selling you a phone instead of renting one every month. They tried to challenge it in court and lost.

    Cable industry is going the way of the Dodo bird. Technology is obsolete. Service stinks. Content for the most part sucks. They have lost me as a customer and I'm n

    • The other week AT&T rolled out Fibre to my area.
      • + fiber
      • + gigabit
      • + in BOTH directions
      • + unlimited data
      • + LIST price for $10/month more than my current Comcast 250/25Mbps Cable with 1TB of data
      • + Bundling and autopay cancelled the difference to zero

      When I cancelled my Comcast, and told them exactly why, they actually had the balls to try and upsell me to Comcast Gigabit

      • + still only cable, not fiber
      • + not symmetrical
      • + not unlimited
      • + three times the price of AT&T Fiber

      Completely clueless, out of touch,

  • I cut the cord because:
    1. Service is too expensive. (I also enjoyed it when they keep raising the price for the cable box rentals because they claim it's too expensive to maintain their equipment.)
    2. Less interest in the programming (Gee, I cannot wait for the next heavily-scripted "reality" TV show.)
    3. Horrible customer service
    4. No longer willing to pay for everyone's ESPN (I don't watch it, so why am I paying for it?)
    5. I stopped going to see most movies because they suck, why would I want to pay t

  • I don't remember whether it was ads or show quality, but I quit TV decades ago, and now I have no desire to go back.

    • Re:Too late for me (Score:4, Insightful)

      by misnohmer ( 1636461 ) on Saturday March 10, 2018 @09:15AM (#56238435)

      The "too late" has a much more profound effect. For me it was the continually increasing monthly bill while on a "fixed price" plan. Once I cut the cord, I realized I can get more of what I want for less money simply with an HD antenna, a DVR, and content I purchase to stream over the internet. What Comcast didn't realize that once people cut the cord, they find better alternatives which make Comcast service worth less to those people. It's like, "I used to pay you $30/month. Comcast decided to raise by $0.50 to $1.50 per month. Once it reached $80 I cut the cord and realized I get all I want for less than $25/month (on top of internet, but I need internet anyways, different provider) and I get it commercial free. The only way I see myself again using cable TV with commercials is if it was completely free, since really it would just replace my HD antenna and give me a handful more channels that I might care to watch.

      Sorry Comcast, want to feed me ads, you gotta provide the content for free now that I know I can get it elsewhere commercial free for less money that I used to pay you.

  • Too little, too late. I cut the cord almost 10 years ago. When we signed up for cable, the "basic" package started at a reasonable $35 per month. Then, before you know it, it's $60 a month, and I really couldn't tell you what that extra $25 was giving me, and damned if I needed to spend $720 a year on the dreck the TV people presented as "entertainment." Now, when I stay in hotels, I'll flip through the channels and quickly realize I'm still not missing anything. About the only channel I actually like
  • I really don't mind the ads at all....it is the obnoxious high price for in the end not much content worthwhile to watch. I looked into cable cutting, I'd save a few bucks per month, but had to switch between OTA, Chromecast, and PC to change to the various channels juggling two remotes and a tablet. Sadly, there is not a single media center application out there that is affordable and does not need a masters in CS to get set up. Best so far was Windows Media Center....no idea why Microsoft dropped that fro
  • Not good enough. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by generic_screenname ( 2927777 ) on Saturday March 10, 2018 @07:49AM (#56238265)
    I'll come back when I can have a la carte subscriptions to quality content without ads.
  • I remember when cable first came to our small town. We lived in the middle of no where, and we could get 2 TV stations with an outdoor antenna. So, when we were finally able to get 50+ stations for a small monthly fee, we were happy to take it, commercials and all. Back then we were paying for the delivery. These days we are paying for the content. So, I don't have to pay twice for television anymore. I will either get it for no cost and "pay" by having to watch commercials, or I will pay a cash fee a
  • I think the cable companies are looking at the very possibility that Americans are switching to an "on demand" model of television viewing. And I think the biggest cable company of all, Comcast, realizes this. Their phased national rollout of DOCSIS 3.1 gigabit Internet service is eventually designed for things like on-demand viewing of ATSC 3.0 Ultra HD content, given that ATSC 3.0 includes a full specification for streaming video.

  • ...would refuse to see the obvious solution: lower prices, no ads and "a la carte" channel by channel choices.

    BINGO! You may have your business back now!

The next person to mention spaghetti stacks to me is going to have his head knocked off. -- Bill Conrad

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