Cord-Cutting, Twitter, And The TV ExperienceBy: Sarah Parrott - October 9, 2013
Cord-cutting, for those who may not be in-the-know, refers to “cutting” the cable cord in favor of sating one’s lust for television programming in a different manner, usually through pay-per-view services or the Internet. The practice has been steadily growing in popularity over the years, with many people turning to Internet options in particular. (Whether or not those options are legal or not is an entirely different discussion.) Other folks, such as this author, have opted for services such as Hulu and Netflix, which are much cheaper per month than average cable bills. Janko Roettgerrs perhaps sums the whole debacle up best by saying, “Young people can’t afford to pay $100 for cable, and most of us just watch 14 networks anyway.”
The cable industry is far from panicking, however. They faced a similar problem in the 90’s, when a huge chunk of their demographic was whisked away by the lull of satellite television. When recalling this episode of time, Epix CEO Mark Greenberg remarked, “Some in the media business call this cord cutting. But three decades ago, we had a different name for this in the industry. We called it competition.”
Whether or not cord-cutting is competition or not is up for debate, but the implications it has for the wallets of both cable companies and advertisers is not. Since, in theory, one would want to watch a show when the most other people are watching it (i.e., the first night it airs) in order to get better feedback, advertisers are willing to shell out more cash for time slots around the show so that they might get a chance at potential consumer’s wallets. This is where Twitter comes in; when your Twitter feed is completely full of hash tags relating to a certain show or topic, people want to see what the fuss is about, and they may tune in, themselves. That bolsters views, ratings, and revenue for both the broadcasters and the advertisers. (In theory, at least.)
This begs the question, then; will Twitter be able to save cable television? The theory goes that Twitter may play a vital role in keeping people from cutting the cord. Since people take interest in sharing their opinions and connecting with other people interested in topics and shows they enjoy, they take to social media, like Twitter, as a way to express these interests. In order to keep up with the rapidly changing landscape, however, they need access to the new media and shows at the same rapid pace. Internet sources, both legal and not, instant streaming, and Netflix are all wonderful tools, but lack something that cable TV has; the near-monopoly over newly airing television programs.
According to this argument, Twitter encourages people to stave off the cutting of the cable cord by simultaneously encouraging people to participate in a rapidly changing, highly engaged discussion culture relating to current, rapidly updating media. However, people who use Twitter are also likely to use things like DVR, which also skews views and revenue. As Magid Advisors president Mike Vorhaus says, “There are a lot of factors mitigating against increased live TV viewing outside of major events. People are busy, and they have a lot of time-shifting options, and those things aren’t going to change.” Perhaps, then, the solution is for the TV industry to innovate in order to accommodate for these busy, cash-strapped folks, as Jank Roettgers goes on to describe in their article, mentioned above.[Image courtesy of the official Twitter website.]