Cable 2.0

By John Lansing

Cable’s successful path forward over the next ten years will hinge on its willingness to put the consumer at the center of the conversation.  When you consider that MSOs can now provide their customers the technology that is essential in navigating and actualizing much of what makes everyday life engaging, entertaining and satisfying – the relationship with that customer will become paramount.

Think about it. On a best-in-class cable broadband connection, the consumer has almost limitless access to any form of content; the ability to communicate and connect within their neighborhoods or around the world; control of the safety and security of their businesses, home and families from anywhere at any time; and the mobility with TV EverywhereSM and cable WiFi to take these features with them wherever they may go. Because of this critical link between cable broadband and customer, marketing to new customers will only be the beginning. Keeping customers will necessitate a platinum standard for the experience, from the first touch point through the entire life cycle.

As the “Internet of Things” expands the potential for further growth, it should become a tenant of the industry that the customer is driving the future, and the industry’s relationship with that customer is the key to maintaining and strengthening the cable business model – including both programmers and MSOs.  As marketers, we must establish a higher benchmark for understanding and respecting the intelligence and expectations of consumers, as it is they who will ensure the future.

Rise of Millennials

In doing so, it’s sobering to consider that any cable industry consumers born between 1976 and 1996, otherwise known as Millennials, are bringing a completely different mind-set to media usage and consumption habits when compared to Baby Boomers.  According to a recently released research study from Frank N. Magid Associates,  Magid Media Futures, “Millennials are significantly more likely (than Boomers) to connect their TV to the Internet.  This allows a clear path to OTT and alternative distribution, and as a result Millennials are redefining the notion of TV.”  In addition, while cord cutting remains a relatively minor issue for cable today, according to the Magid study,“Millennials are twice as likely as Baby Boomers to drop their pay TV service.”

TV Everywhere – A Path Forward

The intersection of improving the overall customer experience and the increased power of Millennials reveals an important opening for progress.  Magid and other industry researchers, such as Hub Entertainment Research, have all reported that Millennials are not only heavier OTT consumers, but that they are also disproportionately heavier consumers of TV Everywhere.  Hence, the most at-risk consumers for the cable industry today – younger viewers and viewers of OTT – happen to value the proposition of TV Everywhere greatly, more than any other demographic groups.  That is why CTAM’s top priority for 2014 is to establish the best-in-class, industry-wide TV Everywhere user experience guidelines and a consistent, national consumer messaging strategy.

In many ways the future is right at our door step today.  Millennials are already entering their mid-30s and rapidly redefining the marketplace.  They move with ease between digital platforms that suit their lifestyles.  Their loyalties go to those who meet their expectations for high value, seamless user experience and quality customer service.  Content providers and cable companies are stepping onto the path to the future today through their work on the promising TV Everywhere initiative.  But it will require an industry-wide commitment to understanding and responding to the unique expectations of Millennials to truly succeed.  It’s hard to imagine a successful outcome without connecting with this emerging generation in a deep, authentic and individual manner – and then keeping the conversation going.

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John Lansing is the president and CEO of CTAM.