Thursday, April 4, 2013

Should Cable Companies Fund Original Programming Like Netflix?

Unless you haven't been paying attention you've probably heard about the enormous success of Netflix's original series House of Cards.

With big-name actors such as Kevin Spacey, a Hollywood director in David Finch, an encompassing plot based on the BBC series of the same name, and a season budget approaching $100 million, House of Cards was an enormous risk for Netflix that has paid handsome dividends. This success, in turn, has brought into question the future of online original programming.

Is there a formula for success, and if so, who has the resources to tap into it first? Can YouTube, Hulu, and Amazon follow suit?  Should original programming come with your purchase of not only cable television, but services such as your Time Warner, ATT, or Comcast internet plans?

The lure of providing original programming to you, the consumer, is attractive in many ways.  Original programming, first and foremost, gives content providers the appearance of exclusivity.  Why should providers rely on television reruns and user content when they can produce shows and movies of similar and superior quality and reap the creative and commercial rewards?  It’s a win-win for you and the content provider: you get something new and the provider can say they gave it to you.

Original programming is also a great way to drive ad revenue.  It’s one thing for you to have to watch shows on basic and cable television and deal with sometimes cumbersome commercials, but it’s another thing to have to watch those same shows online and still have to deal with them.  Original programming solves that problem. You’re much more likely to accept advertisement if it means watching something new in the process.  For non-subscription based content providers, being able to get you to accept advertising is the difference between success and failure.

Most importantly, providing original programming gives you, the consumer, more bang for the buck. In a day and age where it’s getting easier and easier for you to let cable services go because of a struggling economy and increasing expenses, giving you access to new, original programming helps increase consumer retention.  You deserve more and you should be able to get it, not only just through cable television, but all of the services they offer.

With all the pros of original programming, the biggest con is original programming can be expensive, and paying for it can result in added expense for you despite ad revenue.  Also, just as with regular television, actual quality may vary, making any kind of expense appear unreasonable to the cost-conscious consumer.  If you're like most people, you'd rather pay nothing for something old and good than an extra penny for something new and average.

Should you expect more original programming from cable services such as Comcast internet plans in the future?  Almost certainly, and while you should remember that results may vary, in most cases it’ll be well worth it.

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