[opendtv] Re: McAdams On: TV Everywhere, Why Aereo Wins the PR War...

  • From: Craig Birkmaier <craig@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 18 Jul 2013 07:34:33 -0400

On Jul 17, 2013, at 1:35 PM, "Manfredi, Albert E" 
<albert.e.manfredi@xxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

> Is Hulu Plus free? Is Netflix free? Is Amazon free? You continue to assume 
> that the MVPD model is the only way to get pay TV. OTA is not the only way to 
> get "free TV," and MVPDs are not the only way to get pay TV. This is nothing 
> new, Craig.

No Bert, I've been paying for TV programming for decades. Since the 
introduction of the VCR and cable, we have been able to buy some programming to 
supplement the free stuff offered by broadcasters.

The VCR was largely replaced by the DVD (packaged media and "Blockbuster"), and 
the DVR (time shifted recording). Now the Internet has largely replaced going 
to Blockbuster and VOD is starting to replace the DVR. 

But there has been a constant through all of this. A relatively small 
percentage of ALL programming, is perceived as having great value by consumers. 
This is mostly sports - football in particular, and the Olympics to a lesser 
extent - but may also be network programming when a TV series becomes very 

There is a very easy way to determine which network programs we are talking 
about. Just look at the timing of retransmission consent negotiations - they 
almost always occur just before one of the limited number of programs that 
attract a huge audience. 

At one time, the broadcast networks delivered most of this content, but today 
much of it has moved inside the MVPD walled gardens. For example, ESPN controls 
most of the college football bowl games, and has had the national championship 
game since 2011. The NCAA Basketball Final Four moves to cable next year.

This is not uniquely American. Exclusive rights to popular sporting events have 
been used to attract subscribers all over the world. It was a deal for English 
Football that went south that brought OnDigital to its knees, which in turn led 
to the creation of Freeview. 

The current trend IS NOT to "free" this content from MVPD bundles. Rather, it 
is to bring more of this content under the MVPD umbrella. This trend is 
accompanied by the move to require an MVPD subscription to get internet access 
to live programming for second screen devices. 

Obviously, you do not succumb to this ruse, and are willing to wait until you 
can access popular network programs free. I, on the other hand, could care less 
about most of the network programming you watch, so whether it is free or on 
cable matters very little to me. 

To be completely fair, I am in the process of setting up my home media system 
to deliver a high quality OTT experience. I just bought the new Airport Time 
Capsule that supports 802.11 A/C yesterday and hope to have real Cox Cable 
broadband next week to replace my terrible AT&T DSL, and wireline phone 
service. A Netflix subscription will follow, but the basic cable TV bundle will 
not go away, at least for the immediate future. My wife and I both love 

>>> It's just not that difficult a concept. The problem seems to be that
>>> most people can't divorce "TV content" from "walled in MVPD."
>> No Bert, millions of people would like to see THAT divorce. But the content
>> and distribution oligopolies understand the leverage they have with just a
>> small percentage of the content they offer.
> "Small percentage of the content they offert"? It sounds to me like you're 
> saying, "TV is not TV unless you can get sports 24/7." Seems like a rather 
> narrow-minded definition. (Not that 24/7 sports may not just appear on some 
> OTT site soon enough, once the younger generation have gotten their point 
> across.)

Sorry Bert, but the number of sports-a-holics is not that large. And consumers 
are starting to push back as some MVPDs try to force new sports packages into 
the extended basic bundles. But it only takes the threat of losing a few key 
programs and event to keep the vast majority of U.S. TV viewers locked into 
MVPD bundles.

As for the Millennials, the vast majority still subscribe to cable, but they 
represent the larger group that is cutting the core , or at least thinking 
about it. But this recent report suggests that they are also attracted to the  
MVPD offer to watch TV anywhere on second screens:


The study looked at “broadbanders” (aka “cord cutters” or “nevers”), those who 
do not currently subscribe to pay TV services but have broadband/Internet 
access and watch TV programming, and “cross-platformers” (aka “strayers”), 
subscribers who have both broadband and Pay TV. Among the key findings: 13% of 
18-34 year olds (8.6 million) who already have broadband service are committed 
to a broadband-only existence, a much higher percentage than in previous 
reports. In addition, many cross-platformers are looking to stray from the 
“pay-TV ecosystem” (17.9 million 18-34s, as well as 32 million 18-49s). But the 
report also indicates that 7% of at-risk cross-platformers would consider 
keeping their pay TV subscriptions if offered programming streamed live and on 
demand anywhere/everywhere, and 58% of broadbanders would consider subscribing 
to TV for a bundle of networks from their broadband provider, streamed live and 
on demand.

So what may be most likely is that we could see a new MVPD service that 
delivers PAY TV via broadband, which is what Intel and Google appear to be 

What is not likely is that we will see access to live TV streaming, WITHOUT a 
pay TV subscription.

You can UNSUBSCRIBE from the OpenDTV list in two ways:

- Using the UNSUBSCRIBE command in your user configuration settings at 

- By sending a message to: opendtv-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with the word 
unsubscribe in the subject line.

Other related posts: