Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wake Up, Showtime

I'm increasingly hearing about people who are "cutting the cord" -- cutting off their cable subscriptions in favor of a combination of other sources, from Over-The-Air (OTA) broadcasts, AppleTV, Netflix, Hulu (if you're not Canadian), etc.

That's great -- increased freedom of choice for the consumer is likely to benefit them, and the content as well, by removing layers of middle-men and removing the need for artificial elements like broadcast schedules, canned formats.

But as the television and movie industries go through these changes, they're prone to making mis-steps out of fear and denial. For instance, Showtime just pulled their active series from Netflix. They're quoted as saying:
“We’re more conscious of [the competition] now… With all the options out there, we want to be sure people know they have to subscribe to seeDexter or The Borgias.”
For some portion of their market, that's true, but increasingly for the forward-looking portion of the market, these kinds of moves simply push the consumer into making hard choices. Subscribe to Showtime, or just get Dexter off BitTorrent?

If you're already dialing down your cable and getting some of your content from AppleTV, Hulu and Netflix, then the idea of adding Showtime (or TMN) might not appeal to you. If you've already ceased to get Cable TV, then it's not even an option, and you've got no choice but to download the TV shows off the internet.

These are not forward-looking moves. Showtime needs to find its way in the new world of digital delivery, not pull itself further into irrelevance and pretend that the last ten years haven't happened.

Wake up, Showtime.

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