Cable’s Comeback Plan

Millennials may win the cord cutting battle against cable companies and yet lose the war in their passion to end bundling of television content.

The cable companies – in my view, as evil as iHeartMedia on their worst day – already know this.

Research shows that over 80% of consumers polled today expect to remain cable subscribers, but asked about ten years down the line about half that number see themselves subscribing to cable.

So in spite of their apparent attempts to fight for bundling so they can make all of us pay for ESPN and their expensive sports rights, cable companies are busily working at their more realistic strategy.

Selling super high-speed Internet.

Now there is something that Millennials need and want for gaming and consuming video content and your local cable company or phone utility plans to have you Millennials (and all of us) by the balls.

Utilities everywhere are installing fiber optics to make this possible. And why would they go through the great expense of running more fiber optics cable?

Because everyone will need WiFi – high speed Internet and lots of bandwidth.

I expect that even iHeartComcast, that Philadelphia based monopoly, will slowly unbundle programming content.

But Millennials don’t want to buy their content from Comcast clones, they want content where and when they want it. So what else is new?

And don’t think for a minute that cable operators aren’t going to put the screws to Millennials when they do sell them unbundled content. My prediction is Millennials will wish they could bundle again after they see what it will cost to cherry pick their content from cable operators.

We are having a discussion about something very significant right now – delivery systems. That’s something that isn’t happening in radio or for that matter music.

Radio stations just want to do 24/7 programming in spite of the fact that money demo audiences are addicted to bingeing. It’s unthinkable to radio companies that audio content could be put together for bingeing and yet without it, radio is even more out in left field.

Audiences want it.

Radio doesn’t want to do it.

See the disconnect?

Radio still wants to move things around their format clocks. They want to do what they always did – live programming delivered as it was in the 1920’s through today.

This will not work.

In fact, I believe if independent radio minds focused on creating binge content for listeners delivered in many new ways, they would simultaneously change the way they did live programming on the air.

To this end, we’ll discuss this in full at my upcoming Media Solutions seminar in Philly in less than two months.

We can make a real difference not by doing the same things, but also by drilling down with innovative thinking on these following ten problems that must be solved to have a positive outcome in 2015.

  1. Too Many Commercials – How spots are scheduled can make a difference.       Also, the length of spots in each stop set. There is much that can be done. To proceed as is is not a solution.
  2. Unremarkable Programming For 70 Million Baby Boomers – All the focus is on young money demo Millennials. Baby boomers have been radio’s most loyal listeners but that’s changing now. Ignore baby boomers, target them or better yet discover what the two disparate groups have in common.  
  3. Outdated Morning Shows – They like personalities but increasingly they don’t like much else about morning shows.  Focus on three new features to replace traffic, time checks and weather. Yes, they don’t need them. But consider these three potent options to replace tired old staples of morning radio. (And you can sell them!)
  4. Music That Is Too Repetitive – Audiences have hated music repetition on radio for decades but they had few alternatives. Not so anymore. Two new strategies show promise. One adds more new music without watering down the hits. The better approach is to rip up the traditional playlist and present the music differently.
  5. No Compelling Reason To Listen Longer – Radio TSL has been down every year since the early 90’s. Under 30’s don’t even listen to any song all the way through even though music radio is built on the assumption that if you play the right songs, the audience will stay tuned in. Now, there is a way to keep listeners from straying and it isn’t longer music sweeps.
  6. Don’t Like the Way Stations Talk To Them – Sounds dated, insincere. Too much bragging and hype. It all sounds like radio is out of touch. Talking down to listeners whether we mean to or not.  Surprising words that turn off young audiences when used on the air, in promos, sweepers, imaging and commercials. Learn them and overcome this objection.
  7. Radio Is Not Authentic – Demographers have discovered 5 things that Millennials crave. Do these 5 things every hour of every day and radio becomes more relevant to the 95 million members of this age group.  One of the 5 things they crave is more authenticity. Learn the fastest way to master being truly authentic to Millennials but also the four other expectations that radio is currently not meeting. They are screaming this out for you to hear.
  8. Lack of Music Variety and Customization – Spotify, Pandora and YouTube are killing radio when it comes to variety and customization. There may be no way to compete with that, but audiences are beginning to tell us what these streaming services are lacking presenting a great opportunity for responsive radio stations to do what streaming services cannot do.
  9. Outdated News and Talk – Two staple radio formats are seeing audiences erode or attracting unsellable aging demographics.  News stations don’t just sound like their father’s radio station – they sound like their grandfathers radio station. Droning on and on with sleepy features designed for station sales managers not for listeners to crave. Conservative talk is also over because audiences want compromise not red meat. And Progressive talk radio never really worked. It’s a no-win. But spoken word is something young Millennials like, really like – here is the spoken word station of the future (bring an open mind).
  10. Don’t Know Where the AM Band Is – Think about it. There’s nothing for audiences under 60 on AM. So you may be thinking that younger money demos won’t listen to an AM station, right? True, unless … well, I’ll show you a number of things you could do on two tin cans hooked together with a string that Millennials would eat up.  Will you take that challenge?  Because I’m going to do it and you’re going to want to brainstorm on it. Forget the FCC. AM needs to disrupt FM the way FM disrupted AM.

PLUS, What Audiences REALLY Want In Digital Content …

There is nothing worse than doing something well that doesn’t need to be done at all. Some stations are doing impressive digital initiatives that audiences simply don’t care about.

Instead, drill down on what listeners really want in digital and get a better return on your investment in time and money:

  1. Storytelling Instead of Podcasting
  2. Short-Form Video Revenue Stream
  3. Non-hyped Social Media Beyond Facebook and Twitter
  4. Content Audiences Can Binge on Just Like They Do Netflix
  5. Apps Not Websites (and That Includes Radio)

This is a day worth your time and investment.

A clearly defined agenda, creative and innovative solutions to apply and a forum to discuss and hitchhike on new ideas that you hear.

Independent broadcasters and digital entrepreneurs are invited to the 6th annual Media Solutions Seminar at the Hub Conference Center March 18th in Philadelphia, walking distance from Amtrak’s 30th Street Station and 20 minutes from Philadelphia International Airport.

Buffet breakfast, lunch and all breaks prepared by James Beard award-winning chef Jean-Marie Lacroix, former executive chef at The Four Seasons included.

Register Now

Contact Jerry about the conference and group rates here.