How the New ‘TV’ Will Affect Cable Companies and Consumers

Chris Versace

Chris Versace is a financial columnist and equity analyst with more than 20 years of experience in the investment industry.
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Watching what you used to consider television is about to get a whole lot more interesting. By now, most us have abandoned true broadcast television and left our “rabbit ears” behind for cable service of one kind or another. Whether from Comcast (CMCSA), Cox Cable, Charter Communications, Verizon (VZ), AT&T (T) or some other service, these companies have been seeking the holy grail of the triple play — telephony, Internet and TV. If you’ve done the math, like I have, it seems most of those companies are practically “giving” you the telephony service for free. But if you try to break that bundle, it gets a lot more expensive. Candidly, I’m waiting for a different triple play — mobile voice and data, Internet and TV…

Recent announcements, however, suggest the triple play, as we know it now, could be over long before we see mobile voice and data, Internet and TV come about. During the last few weeks, announcements from Amazon (AMZN), Yahoo! (YHOO) and Google (GOOGL) all suggest the TV market as we know it is on the cusp of changing. Even without these announcements, you’ve probably noticed that the way in which we consume what we once called TV programming has already started to change. It can be watched online via sites like Hulu or on the major networks’ websites, streamed through Apple TV or watched later on Netflix (NFLX) or Amazon Instant Video. More and more, the cable companies are making more and more programs available as part of their on-demand service offering.

At the same time, there are more sources of original programming than ever before. Netflix has its “House of Cards.” AMC Networks (AMCX) has been knocking it out of the park with hits like “Breaking Bad” and others, while FX Networks, Amazon and now Yahoo! are getting involved. That’s the content side of the equation, and that’s not even counting some of the channels that Google’s YouTube has created.

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Not only are there more and more choices coming to you, but now, thanks to Amazon and its new Fire TV set-top box, as well as Apple’s Apple TV and Microsoft’s Xbox, we soon will have a new Android TV set-top box in addition to Google’s Chromecast dongle. Lest I forget, apps like Watch ABC, Netflix, Hulu and dozens of others bring programming right to you, no matter where you are, so long as you have a data connection and a smartphone or tablet with you.

All of this innovation confirms something I have been sharing with my subscribers for some time — the living room will be a key battleground. That means in order to succeed, companies will need to have assets in the Cloud, in mobile (smartphones), in computing (tablets) and in the living room (set-top box or gaming console). If we look at the competitive landscape through that lens, it doesn’t look very good for one-product companies like Blackberry (BBRY) or HTC. The picture gets even more dire for the one-product companies after we factor in The Connected Car and The Connected Home.

If I led a cable company, I would be far more concerned about my business becoming little more than a connective pipe or, as others call it, a dumb pipe. From this perspective, the move by Comcast to acquire NBC Universal makes far more sense. Much like those one-product companies, if the other cable companies can’t add competitive moats around their businesses, they too could see their business models challenged as these newer ways of consuming digital programming where you want, when you want continue to gain share.

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Jobs, Jobs, Jobs with Lindsay Stanton, Chief Client Officer for the Job Search Television Network
On the heels of another “just okay” Job Report from the Labor Department, we’re joined by Lindsay Stanton, chief client officer for the Job Search Television Network, as well as to talk about why she’s upbeat when it comes to the outlook for jobs in the coming months.

As Lindsay tells us, there has been a robust pickup in activity at staffing firms during the last few months as corporate America scrambles to fill jobs, from IT and financial services to truck drivers, as the housing and construction markets start to rebound. Given the Fortune 1,000 client base that includes Macy’s, McDonald’s, USG, Bank of America and dozens and dozens of others, Lindsey truly takes us behind the scenes and in the know… and you’ll hear it.

Listen to my one-on-one conversation with
Lindsay Stanton of the Job Search Television Network

In case you missed it, I encourage you to read my PowerTrend Brief from last week about what the results of the March quarter mean for the direction of the June quarter. I also invite you to comment in the space provided below.

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