MG hits the nail on the head. Curtis writes a very detailed, insightful article, but the fact of the matter is cable is dying right now! Not tomorrow, not in a year, but now. Soon, HBO won’t be able to entice a huge base of cable subscribers to add HBO to their subscription because the huge base of cable subscribers won’t exist.
HBO needs to think about what it wants to accomplish in the near-term and long-term, and figure out a way to make their goals viable. I feel very strongly that cable companies should not be part of that equation.
As Curtis notes, the Forbes piece does seem to be linkbait-centric, but it doesn’t make the overall point incorrect. Just look at one key portion of what Kessler said:
What you don’t want to do is to pursue a distribution channel over here [ed: the internet], where you think, well, let’s go around the affiliate and we’ll get a couple hundred thousand subs. But the promotional, and packaging support we get over here [ed: the affiliate networks], which, by the way, is the foundation of our 30 million subs and enables us to get 10 million transactions, if that dissipates, and that shrinks, then we will lose a lot of subs over here.
The error in this thinking remains the notion that the cable infrastructure may not shrink. It absolutely will. It’s just a matter of when. Kessler’s comments are disturbing because he seems to view it as at least partially his job to ensure that this doesn’t happen. But it’s going to happen. It’s inevitable. He doesn’t see it.
Essentially, Kessler won’t act because he’s afraid to disrupt his own current cash cow. But by failing to act, he’s ensuring it’s going to be disrupted by someone else. Either you disrupt your own business on your own terms, or you get disrupted by someone else on their terms.
But maybe that will be a problem for HBO’s next president.
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