Alienation As A Business Model

After a very large sports weekend the trade press is filled with the various reports from the broadcasters about their record-breaking audiences.

no-cable-tv

(Photo credit: hjl)

The World Cup is generating huge viewership on TV as well as online.  The NBA Playoffs had massive audiences.  The Stanley Cup Playoffs did exceptionally well.  While the U.S.Open audience was down a bit there was still massive interest.

It wasn’t just sports either.  There was the usual slew of primetime shows that, in the aggregate, bring together a majority of the population across broadcast and cable networks.  I’ll admit to having watched my fair share of both sports and entertainment (and a little news thrown in).  As I was doing so, a thought came to mind.

All of these content providers (that’s what they are, you know) do their best to attract large audiences.  After all, a big part of their business model is selling the viewers’ eyeballs to advertisers.  Why does it seem, then, that every one of them goes out of their way to alienate the audience with way too much non-program material?

I’ll give you an example.  I tuned in the golf on Father’s Day at noon with my dad and my brother-in-law, also a golf fan.  From noon until around 1:30, we saw very little golf as NBC decided to show us feature after feature and do analysis of what the leaders would do when they teed off 2 hours later.  Even though some big names and popular players were on the course, they didn’t show us how the course was playing, how the greens were breaking, or anything else.  They also showed lots and lot of commercials.

I don’t mean to single NBC out.  Just look at how often something important on the screen is obscured by a promotional overlay, something common to every network these days.  Nielsen did a report which looked at 20 cable channels’ commercial loads in the first quarter of 2013. The results: Some nets don’t even fill 40 minutes of programming time per hour.  Nielsen told Adweek that the average clutter time today is 13:32 on broadcast; 16:59 on cable (so the program time averages barely 43 minutes).  You wonder why Netflix is so popular?

When we promise our customers one experience and then deliver something quite different, we’re in trouble.  I don’t tune in to any show to watch the ads or the promos and I’m sure you don’t either.  Yet those seem to be the focus for the program providers.  You can’t build alienating your customers into your business model.  All of us need to align our interests with those of our customers no matter what the business.   What’s your take on this?

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