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Viacom vs. Spectrum

I had a couple of ideas for today’s post, good pieces that I thought I had something interesting to say about, but I guess today isn’t the day for them. Instead, while I was taking a quick look through social media, I happened upon an ad on Facebook by Comedy Central, trying to whip up the mob to beat on Spectrum to accept a new contract.

I watched just enough of the ad to get an idea of what it was about. Two women from a show I’d never seen, speaking energetically with their hands, made the case that Spectrum was the bad guy and that Spectrum subscribers would lose access to Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and the other channels Viacom puts out. The dispute seems to have something to do with… well, I really don’t care enough to put forth the effort to figure it out. Here’s a couple of articles if you’re interested.

What I found interesting is the response.

I clicked on the comments just to see the hate. Yeah, sometimes I’m in that sort of mood, and this morning I was in the sort of headspace where I thought it might be fun to get out the popcorn and see how much the commentors hated Spectrum. Everyone hates their cable company, right? Well, apparently, they hate Viacom more.

It’s hilarious.

I’ll let the comments speak for themselves.










Apparently, the message is, if you’re going to take your case to the public, you should probably take it to the right public. A little market research goes a long way.

Now, as I mentioned, a dispute between two megacorps doesn’t grab me. Comedy Central lost all credibility with me when they cut South Park’s Mohammed episode, and anything that keeps Trevor Noah from accidentally showing up on my screen when channel-surfing my way past is a good thing. And Charter, as the only decent, and I’m using that term loosely, internet provider in my area, may have my business, they certainly don’t have my love. The world doesn’t have enough rats to produce the quantity of rat’s asses necessary for me to see my way clear to give one.

The only interesting thing here, besides the comments, is the economics of the situation. In case you don’t know the industry, the Reader’s Digest is thus: People produce the shows, passing the cost up to the networks. In the cable business, these companies are grouped together as “content providers”. Viacom is one of these. They pass those costs up to the cable and satellite companies, which are the guys we do business with. All of those costs eventually end up in our monthly bills.

The whole system is under tremendous upward pressure. The content providers want more, the cable companies want more, and the only place they can get it is us. Normally, under situations like this, the content delivery companies would just jack up the rates.

But they can’t. The Internet changed everything. Now, for perhaps the first time ever, the downward pressure is strong enough that raising the subscription fees isn’t a viable option. As the “cut the cord” movement grows stronger, there is a credible threat that the whole industry is going to crash. The monopolies these guys built their businesses on doesn’t exist anymore.

Between Netflix and Amazon Prime, I already have more content than I can watch. If you add in a short term subscription to HBO when Game of Thrones comes back, I literally have no reason to keep subscribing to DirecTV.

To be honest, I could use that money elsewhere.

Like, oh, I don’t know, quality reading material.

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