Thursday, October 07, 2010

Follow the bouncing carriage deals

According to Multichannel News, AT&T has sent a postcard to its U-verse subscribers, telling them that they may lose access to a number of channels if the company can't negotiate acceptable business deals with them. Here are the dates on which a number of carriage agreements expire:
Just so everyone knows that AT&T means business, the Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie Channel have been off U-Verse since August 30th, and there's no word of if or when they're going to be restored.

As service providers knock more and more cable channels off of their systems to save money, they lower the value of their services to current and potential subscribers. There are a handful of channels that subscribers would likely change service providers in order to keep--the problem is that they're different channels for every subscriber. I'm a Comcast subscriber, and if they lost ESPN, I wouldn't blink, but if they lost Discovery, I'd be on the phone to DirecTV or Dish to schedule a hookup, which leads to the other problem--every service provider is playing the same brinksmanship games. I could switch service providers and still end up losing Discovery.

The inevitable future for all but a handful of cable networks is monthly subscriptions through Apple TV, Google TV, Roku, Boxee and the like. That's the only way to insure that they can reliably reach a critical mass of households.

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