Cable's Latest Great Idea: Speed Up Programs So They Can Stuff More Ads Into Every Hour
from the who-cares-about-quality dept
We’ve discussed numerous times that 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 increase the hourly advertising load! Similarly, cable industry efforts at “innovative” viewing options (like TV Everywhere) are often more about giving the impression of innovation than actually innovating.
The latest example of cable industry tone deafness? With cable and broadcast ratings continuing to fall, more and more people have been complaining that the industry increasingly likes to speed up programs notably so more ads can be stuffed into every hour. By speeding up Seinfeld by about 7.5%, for example, the industry can manage to deliver an extra two minutes of ad time during the program:
This has been going on for a while, and as complaints in this Reddit thread attest, another favorite tactic has been to heavily edit some programs for the same purpose. Fans of particularly popular programs tend to be the first to notice that their favorite content is now edited or accelerated, which may drive them to look elsewhere for a better quality version of that product (piracy, Netflix). Behold, even many executives in the cable and broadcast industry appear to be aware that adding more ads and degrading the quality of your product might not be the greatest idea for an industry at the cusp of a major competitive sea change:
“It is important for us to consider the effect this is having on the viewer experience,? said Jackie Kulesza, executive vice president and director of video at Starcom USA. ?We want to ensure our message is seen by receptive viewers.”…”They are trying to deal with a problem in a way that is making the problem bigger,? said Chris Geraci, president of national broadcast at media buyer Omnicom Media Group of the practice of increasing the commercial loads to make up for declining ratings.”
Except the cable and broadcast industry has repeatedly shown it’s not really worried about the “viewer experience.” Why? Because for all of the bitching the public does about their cable company and its historically abysmal customer service, the industry knows the vast, vast majority continue to pay them an arm and a leg for bloated bundles of miserable programming that barely gets watched. Even as cord cutting accelerates, the industry isn’t worried; plan B is to abuse its monopoly over the broadband last mile to ramp up deployment of broadband caps, recouping their lost pound of flesh via broadband overage fees.