Comcast’s desire to buy Time Warner cable in a stock swap brings up old questions about the value of bundling. Cable providers have long maintained the contracts into which they enter with content providers compel them to carry (and pay transmission fees for) a wide range of channels. So the old song lyric, “500 channels and nothing on,” continues to apply.
This is like buying a bottle of cabernet sauvignon of good vintage and even better terroir and being told you have to carry around this keg full of Bud Light along with it.
The entertainment companies (the term “entertainment” used very loosely here) don’t have an interest in helping their viewers watch only what they want to watch. Their goal is to shout. Shout from every network channel they own, even shout about their own shouting (meta shouting), in hopes to gaining eyeballs for advertisers.
The content delivery companies (the term “content” used very loosely here) don’t have an interest in helping their viewers watch only what they want to watch either. They already more or less have a monopoly or a duopoly and don’t really have to change. They have to worry more about regulators than customers fleeing to a competitor, because real competition is nonexistent.
So in the end the consumer ends up carrying around (and paying for) this unwanted keg full of Bud Light, when all they wanted was a nice bottle of cab.
It’s a complex legal and technical conundrum to fix the issues with video entertainment dissemination. But if you’re a business owner, you can learn and apply the simple lessons from this dysfunctional relationship.
Giving your customers an option to have only what they want or need, and seeking ways to provide value (and improve your bottom line) by personalizing and suggesting additional value is the best way to attract and retain customers. Don’t be the business that forces your customers to lug around that unwanted keg. They’ll hate you for it, and will bolt to your competitor at the earliest opportunity. Because unlike Comcast, you don’t have a monopoly.