Tag Archives: HBO

Your Customers vs. Your Partners

Here is an interesting story from the folks at MediaBiz that just cuts to the core of almost every business issue.  It points out the Sophie’s Choice created by some older business models in a time when technology is forcing them to change.  First the facts:


DirecTV (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A handful of DIRECTV subs stopped receiving HBO after the company started blocking the signal on older TV sets that don’t have the encryption standard High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP). DIRECTV… recently added HDCP protection to all HBO-owned channels and “will continue rolling out to other premium services in the coming weeks.” The company said affected customers should replace their HDMI connection with a component video cable and a separate audio cable (emphasis added).

Most folks who do so for a living will tell you that HDMI is a better signal (and therefore picture) than component video.  DirecTV also markets itself accurately as providing a better picture to consumers.  Without content, however, there is no service – it’s a big, empty pipe.  It’s the content providers who are insisting on the use of HDCP.  They’re the ones whose business model is most impacted by what they presume is widespread piracy and are insisting on this protection layer.  DirecTV is placed in the untenable position of either losing the content by catering to their partners or telling customers to degrade their pictures and potentially losing customers who can get better video elsewhere using more current technology.

Ultimately, customers pay the bills.  I believe we win when we serve them and while that may, as in this case, cause problems with partners, suppliers, and others, that downside risk vs. that of angry and vocal consumers is minimal.  In this case, the customers who would most notice the downgrade to component video are probably the ones who would know how to cut the cord and get the content they seek elsewhere, hopefully through legitimate means rather than piracy.  As businesspeople, we encourage that illegal behavior by choosing any segment over our customers – witness what the music business did for a very long time.

That’s where I come out.  How do you see it?

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Filed under digital media

The Pros From Dover

I was flipping around the dial last evening when I came across a program called “Talking Funny” on HBO.  It was Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Louis CK and Ricky Gervais talking about comedy and having, as the promo says “an unscripted conversation about what it means to be a comedian.”  It was pretty funny stuff and, more importantly for our purposes in this space, it got me thinking about some broader business points I’d like to share.

One of them made the point that most people can amuse themselves.  You or I can tell jokes and make ourselves and others laugh.  This was said with a touch of bemusement and amazement that despite this fact, people pay a fair amount of money to go to comedy shows.  And that’s the business point. Continue reading

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Filed under Consulting

Joined At The Hip

Vegetables (and some fruit) for sale on a stre...

Suppose you went to the supermarket today to buy some vegetables but when you went to pay you were told you had to buy soda as well.  The store manager (who you demanded to see, of course) calmly lets you know that the store doesn’t make enough margin on vegetable sales alone while they make a ton on soda so they’ve bundled them together.  It’s a financial decision, and the fact that you don’t really drink much soda isn’t their problem.  They won’t sell you one without the other.  Ridiculous?  Maybe for groceries.  But you’ve been doing this for years. Continue reading

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Filed under Reality checks, Thinking Aloud

Content Tapas

Tapas party

I love tapas.   You probably do too although you may not think of them as such.  In Spain, these are little plates of food – a few bites – that traditionally have been eaten while you’re at a bar.  In Italy, particularly in Venice, they’re called cicchetti – bite sized appetizers.  Bar food.  Go on, admit it.  How often have you looked at a menu and ordered 3 or 4 appetizers while skipping an entrée?  They’re the stuff of which great bar hopping experiences are made.  Meals you eat in snack-able portions.  We’ve become a culture of snackers, and it’s not just in food. Continue reading

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Filed under digital media, food, Thinking Aloud