We've discussed ad nauseum how, as the Internet video revolution accelerates, the cable and broadcast industry's response has predominantly been to double down on bad ideas in the false belief that they can nurse a dying cash cow indefinitely. Netflix nibbling away at your subscriber totals? Continue to glibly impose bi-annual rate hikes. Amazon Prime Video eroding your customer base? How about we edit programs to be shorter so more ads can be shoveled into every viewing hour? By and large, the cable industry's response to the cord cutting threat has been to do more of the things that forced annoyed consumers to leave.
And when you do see a cable or broadcaster attempting to be creative on this front, there's often a degree of lacking common sense. Case in point: AMC Networks last week fancied itself creative when it unveiled a new plan to let consumers skip advertisements on its programs -- if they're willing to pay an additional $5 per month:
"Would you like to pay more for cable TV than you’re already paying? Then AMC has an offer for you: The cable programmer is going to start selling an add-on service that lets cable TV subscribers watch most AMC shows, without commercials, for an extra $5 a month. AMC, which is rolling out its new “AMC Premiere” option to Comcast pay TV subscribers, says the new service is aimed at “super-fans” of its programs like “The Walking Dead,” who have a pay TV subscription but are willing to pay more to watch live, ad-free TV.
So, several problems here. One, the offer ignores the fact that many subscribers already skip ads using their DVRs, making this kind of unnecessary and insulting to the savvy consumer. AMC's also ignoring the lessons learned about needing to compete with piracy, something that doesn't stop being true just because you're offended by piracy's existence. And with often bi-annual price hikes already driving consumers away from cable at a record rate, you'd be pretty hard pressed to find any consumer that thinks it makes sense to pay a penny more for cable television at this juncture, something the company seems fleetingly aware of:
"It’s not for everyone," said AMC president Charlie Collier. "But it’s a good choice for people who want it."
Is it really? This is, once again, the cable and broadcast industry attempting to look innovative and competitive without having to put the time and money into actually being innovative or offering lower prices. AMC "solves" a heavier ad-load problem that consumers have already managed to avoid with their DVRs, hikes up the price of expensive cable TV service even further, then pats itself on the back under the pretense that this is delivering added value to "super fans."
If the cable and broadcast industry really wanted to be innovative, it would work to respond to the rise in streaming competitors and actually compete on price and channel bundle flexibility. Until it does that, everything else is hollow lip service.