We've discussed in the past why we think that the cable companies' "TV Everywhere" strategy is destined to fail
. If you don't recall, it's the way the cable companies are looking to respond to the rise of competition in the form of Hulu, Netflix, Redbox, Boxee and others -- not by offering something more compelling, but by putting up a giant wall around content and forcing you to keep your cable subscription (which fewer and fewer people seem to want) if you want to access TV shows online. Reid Rosefelt
has a nice rant explaining why this won't work
, pointing out (quite accurately) that all those competitors are winning because they deliver what people want, and locking things up doesn't make customers want cable any more:
Why do we enjoy free-with-ads sites like Hulu and Crackle? THEY HAVE FEWER ADS! And we can watch what we want whenever we want to.
What do we like about Netflix? For a fraction of the cost of cable, it gives you DVDs by mail plus the ability watch a lot of movies instantly, either on your computer or with their many compatible set-top boxes.
What do people like about Redbox. One buck! Pick it up and return it to the supermarket!
What do we like about cable?
Ummm, cable is a monopoly. You only get one store. You may only want a pair of socks and a shirt, but you are forced to buy a Yankee cap (even if you are a Mets or a Sox fan), cufflinks, perfume, towels, ladies underwear, two ties, a bedspread, low-slung hip-hop shorts, and a lamp. The kicker is that the price goes up all the time and the Calvin Klein shirt you actually came to buy costs extra. And of course LOTS AND LOTS OF ADS!
It's not that we don't like cable any more--we've always hated it!
But the key insight in the piece is how this, combined with Comcast's attempt to buy NBC Universal, show the backwards thinking of industry execs:
There's one tiny hitch though. Every single TV show and movie from NBC and Universal is available for free to anybody who has ten seconds to look for them. So what exactly is Comcast locking up? This isn't 1995, you know. Either you just shrug your shoulders about file-sharing or you start offering some alternatives that have benefits that people are willing to pay for like Hulu, Netflix, Redbox, and iTunes. Or maybe you work a little and come up with something new? Bill Maher said recently that the Republicans looked into the future and saw... radio. These entertainment giants are looking into the future and they see... cable.
Bingo. It's yet another case of execs looking to lock up content and block value, rather than providing additional value to users. It's people thinking about the way things used to work and trying to recreate it with a digital facelift, rather than looking to actually take advantage of what the new technology enables. That's only a snippet of Reid's analysis, so go read the whole thing.