We know we are all busy and it’s hard to keep up with the news and trends in the industry. As a benefit of your continued membership in 2014 we will be providing quarterly updates of the major items that are affecting the cable industry to help you keep up to date. We encourage you to discuss these items on our mailing list and let us know if there are any items we missed over the last few months.
Less OTT, more Confusion for Students
More and more OTT (Over the Top, or online content like Hulu) providers are starting to place restrictions on who can access their content. We started seeing this 2 years ago when NBC restricted live streaming of the 2012 Olympics to the large cable providers (http://www.fiercecable.com/story/nbc-kicks-tv-everywhere-authentication-push-winter-olympics/2013-12-16). Recently Fox announced that the NFL’s playoff games (and maybe even the Super Bowl) will be restricted to the large cable subscribers. (http://www.fiercecable.com/story/report-fox-will-restrict-nfl-playoffs-streaming-video-authenticated-pay-tv/2014-01-03) ABC and Fox are also starting to place additional primetime programming restrictions for non-cable subscribers. (http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/127245)
So where does this leave our students who don’t have a login with the major providers? This is obviously a play to stop “cord cutting,” but it looks like small systems like the ones we run will be stuck in the middle.
But…Do people care?
A recent survey of cable subscribers found that a great majority don’t use their cable provider’s OTT services. While Comcast, DirecTV, Dish and most of the others offer a VOD or in some cases, live streaming to popular devices like iPads and laptops, the landscape is confusing and people are finding it easier to go to services like Netflix or Hulu. (http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/127257) With only 45% of cable subs actually having access to one of these service-sponsored OTT services and very low awareness, do you think that universities building similar services are worth the trouble?
4K Ultra HD – Are you ready?
It seems like most of us are still trying to upgrade our systems to be HD capable. Luckily, everybody I know missed and avoided the 3D-TV boat, but it looks like there is another upgrade just around the corner – 4K. As with most of these technologies it is always a chicken-and-egg situation where we wait for content while the content providers are waiting for the providers to upgrade. It looks like, Netflix and Amazon are starting to shoot their new series in 4K, and ESPN is starting to investigate in buying new 4K equipment and trucks. (http://www.fiercecable.com/story/netflix-shooting-new-season-house-cards-4k-ultra-hd/2013-12-19) (http://www.fiercecable.com/story/amazon-shoot-pilots-4k-original-series/2013-12-18). Now the biggest question is…whose housing group is going to put in the request for 4K first? (http://www.fiercecable.com/story/elemental-gears-4k-olympics-and-ultra-hd-programming-tiers/2013-12-10)
Premium Channels are still a big draw in the “real world”
While the University cable-land is different than private industry, it seems that the major cable providers are starting to notice that premium channels like HBO are major draws for cable subscribers. Both Time Warner and Comcast began offering minimal packages + HBO to their subscribers to help reduce the number of “cord cutters” that are leaving because of the huge cost of getting these premium channels. (http://www.fiercecable.com/story/time-warner-cable-targets-cord-nevers-30-basic-hbo-bundle/2013-12-03) I know the take rate of HBO and other premium channels on my campus are a statistically abnormal, but the demand is there for students to be able to watch their favorite programming like Games of Thrones (http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/127166). How are you dealing with the demand (or lack thereof)?