What Do Cable Customers Really Want?
It seems that every single day there is a new product on the market that has been designed to take a bite into cable TV customers. There are many online streaming services, some of them legal and some of them not so legal, that are attempting to lure cable television’s customers away by offering things like the ability to stream an entire season of a person's favorite television show or the ability to watch whatever show is wanted when it is wanted. Some of the streaming services have even gone as far as creating their own programming. And yet, even with this onslaught of new ways for cable TV customers to get their entertainment, cable TV customers have stayed loyal. Yes, the cable TV industry did lose a few subscribers for the first time in 2015, but the losses were negligible.
Just because cable TV customers are loyal today does not mean that they will not eventually be wooed by the alternatives out there. Entertainment that is being offered online is a lot less expensive, and it promises to give customers what they want when they want it. The only way for the cable TV industry to keep their customers is to outflank their competition. And surprisingly, many cable companies are doing just that.
A good example of this is the voice controlled remote control that Comcast has been offering to its customers. And if this is not enough, many cable TV providers have started to offer their programs digitally to their subscribers, allowing them to watch the program they want when they want it. This is all part of the TV Everywhere initiative.
Something that has become very clear is that competition in the entertainment field is good for customers. There was a time, just 10 years ago, when cable companies were the only game in town. So they did not care if their technicians arrived on time, if the service they provided was spotty, or if they charged an arm and a leg for their service. Now, with the very real threat of customers cutting the cable cord so to speak, the industry is scrambling to give their customers what they so desperately want. So here’s the question, what do cable customers want?
Identifying the Need of Cable Customers
Parks Associates did a survey on individuals who live in homes in the US that have broadband cable. They asked these individuals what they wanted from their cable subscribers. The answer was loud and clear. Fifty-one percent of the people who were polled in the survey said that they wanted, or at least were very interested in, unlimited DVR storage space.
Providing unlimited DVR service is going to be a challenge for cable companies. And yet, they seem as if they are ready to meet this challenge. Comcast is currently working on the X1 DVR. This device is going to feature a cloud technology platform. And while this does not necessarily mean that the storage is unlimited, it definitely will allow customers to store more programming than they currently can on their device. Comcast is not the only cable provider researching cloud DVR’s. Really, it makes a lot of sense for cable companies to be focusing on this product because it has been unbelievably successful. It is estimated that more than 50 percent of cable users have and use some type of DVR. This is true of cable subscribers who receive their DVR from their cable provider as well as those who have purchased it from a retail chain.
The director of research at Parks Associates is quoted as saying, “Customer interest in cloud DVR’s features is strong…” He goes on to explain that there are going to be some challenges as cable companies transition to cloud DVR’s. However, this service will also provide opportunities such as a reduction in hardware cost, the ability for customers to watch the same show on multiple screens, increased revenue opportunities, as well as improved flexibility.
Customers also expressed interest in other services. For example, they like the idea of having a two-week catch up TV service that would allow them to catch up on programs they may have missed, as well as DVR services that could be used on multiple screens.
A Do or Die Moment for Cable
Cable television is in a do or die moment. Customers have remained loyal to cable television, but that loyalty will only last so long. Other more versatile options are becoming available. The only way for cable providers to prevent massive losses is to give subscribers what they want.
If customers know that they can DVR all of their favorite shows and then on a free day watch all of their favorite programs, this may deter them from abandoning cable. Additionally, if cable can throw in a few bells and whistles that are useful, they could be setting themselves up for a profitable future as the primary way people get entertainment.