Tag Archives: ESPN

CUSTOMER DISSERVICE: Can cable hold off the demand for a la carte?

Don’t look now but your cable television bundle is breaking your bank. That sizable bill that tips the scales at or around $200 seems like the status quo when it comes to cable television, phone and internet service through your local provider. Sure, some companies will give you a decent promotional deal if you start new service or switch, for example, from Comcast to Verizon FIOS or vice versa. Beyond that initial special buy or introductory offer, the cable industry is loving life, and some would argue at your expense. Literally.

The slow and steady rise of alternative methods of television from the likes of streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and specialized programming from the WWE Network or Major League Baseball haven’t usurped cable’s stranglehold on the communications and entertainment industry, but it has given customers a reason to start rethinking how they spend their money on cable TV and internet. The savvier and less complacent crowd isn’t afraid to start shopping around and mixing and matching services, like perhaps going bare bones with cable, adding internet and then buying the $8 per month Netflix as a means to enjoy movies. The consumer is starting to realize that with great buying power comes great responsibility to their own bank account. In short, they’re slowing starting to ask cable to listen to their demands.

Perhaps the most common discussion from customer to cable is the need to break up these bothersome bundles and start selling television the way a vendor sells hot dogs: one at a time. Realistically, the cable industry would likely lose way too much money to start giving customers free reign over how they buy. That doesn’t mean the consumers who are asking for this can’t dream, right? It would be quite the welcoming change of pace if the average customer would tell their cable company that all they really watch is network television, and throw in an ESPN and USA Network, and a little Lifetime for the wife and Nickelodeon for the kids. Any chance you’ll see the cable a la carte system? This probably won’t happen in our lifetime, but the mounting pressure from satellite and streaming services might expedite this process.

Truthfully, cable needs to broaden their thought process and think about how consumers ultimately would buy channels if they could pick and choose at their convenience. Who knows, maybe if cable simply offered paying per channel as an option, consumers might be so overjoyed they’ll end up buying just as much, or more, than if they didn’t have this as a choice? That’s called giving customers what they want and them returning the favor in the form of loyalty to the product. Maybe if those same consumers look at cable through a different set of eyes, they’ll be more inclined to stay put or return as customers.

The End of Television as We Know it

I know I am not going to be the first, nor the last person to ever say this, but the days of what we call broadcast television are numbered.  The future lies with streaming audio and video content via the internet.

For those who are still skeptical about this future I can understand why, because even though I am a believer in this future, I still get my television through what is now considered one of the “traditional” means – through a satellite dish.  Despite that though, I still think that the internet is where the future of television watching is.

People have seriously talking about this future for about a decade now, and there are already services that we can subscribe to that will allow us to cut the cord, sort to speak.  Services like Hulu Plus, Netflix, Blockbuster (yes they are still around), and with a combination of two of those you can watch much of your favorite television shows, and movies for less than what it costs for whatever form of cable/satellite service you might currently have.  Then there is the fact that many new televisions are now equipped to access the internet on their own, and many come with preinstalled aps, like Pandora, Youtube, and even Hulu.  All of that is well and good for many people, but there is a group of individuals who must stay tethered to some sort of receiver or another, and they are the sports fans.

Currently most sports broadcasts are only offered through mainstream television channels, like NBC, ABC, CBS, ESPN, as well as others.  ESPN does stream some games on ESPN3.com, but not all.  Once all sports are available to be watched online, then that will be the end of what we call the status quo for watching television.  We’ll have to wait and see if that is a good thing or not.

The NFL Breaks the Gender Barrier

“ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL?!”  That is (or was) the opening lyric by Hank Williams Junior for Monday Night Football; even though the ratings for that weekly Monday evening NFL broadcast slipped to the point where it was moved to ESPN from ABC, the answer to that question for millions of Americans was a decided “Yes — yes I am ready for some football.”  In case you might not be aware of this, but football (the American kind) is the most popular, and profitable, professional sport here in the good old US of A.  There are many reasons for this, too many to list and explain here, but to give a Cliff’s Notes summary; the big ones are as follows:

(1)    The sport is almost tailor made for television – even though its birth was long before that medium — with plenty of pauses for commercials (revenue) and instant replay’s (viewer content).

(2)    There is plenty of suspense, and “pucker” factor plays to keep fans on the edge of their seats.

(3)    And it has proven to be the most adaptive and progressive professional sports league, willing to change rules in mid-season, embrace instant replay as an official review mechanism, and now breaking the gender barrier.

Relax football “purists,” there will not be actual female football players trotting out on the field, I think even the most ardent feminist could argue that the size, strength, and speed of the men in the NFL might be too much for even the most fit of females out there to handle.  Where the gender barrier has been broken is going to be among the on field officials, with the first female referee making her on field debut in Thursday’s NFL exhibition game, between the Green Bay Packers and the San Diego Chargers.

Now, to be fair Shannon Eastin is getting her big break due to the fact that there is an ongoing labor dispute between the NFL and the Officials Union.  This isn’t to mean that she doesn’t deserve this though.  She has been a long-time official at the college level, which is the stepping stone for both the players and the officials.  While there already have been some who decided to expose their sexism upon hearing this, I say congratulations to the NFL for allowing Ms. Eastin this opportunity.  For all of the naysayers out there, all she has to be able to do is know the rules and then be able to identify and throw a flag on plays where there is an infraction.  Near as I can tell that doesn’t require a pair of testes to do this.