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Author Topic: TV Viewing and Spending Thresholds Discussion  (Read 377 times)
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rittchard
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« on: December 05, 2014, 12:10:14 AM »

As many of you know, I work for Directv so I'm often engaged in discussions regarding how much people are willing to pay for what these days, and how that's evolved the past couple of years.  I know we have a fairly diverse population here between cord cutters and cable/satellite customers, so I'm curious about a few things.

What are your biggest concerns when it comes to TV viewing?  Is it monthly cost, up front cost, programming, sound/picture quality, etc.  For those that have "cut the cord" are you happy with the decision?  What, if anything, would it take to make you come back to some sort of cable/satellite provider?  Do the new "a la carte" options from HBO, CBS, etc change the outlook on your current setup?  Some context on the type of viewer you are might also be helpful in the discussion, i.e. do you watch alot of sports, how much broadcast TV do you watch a week, etc...

Thanks!
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naednek
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« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2014, 02:01:27 AM »

I'm cutting the cord this Tuesday (Right after Sons of Anarchy)

I made a HTPC that has a duel HD tv Tuner, 2 3TB hard drive 1 120GB SSD.  The tuner card is hooked up to my HDTV attenae that cost $40.  I have a bunch of movies on plex, local channels, hulu plus, and for now redbox.  We might switch out hulu plus for netflix.

Upfront it was expensive, but after a year the savings from no subscription TV will pay off the purchase of the HTPC and parts.

With that said here's your answers...

Quote
1:What are your biggest concerns when it comes to TV viewing?
Too many garbage channels that not many people care to watch for a high cost.  I don't care if I have 200 channels if 2/3rds of them are shopping, music, religious, or other channels I'm not interested in 

Quote
For those that have "cut the cord" are you happy with the decision?  What, if anything, would it take to make you come back to some sort of cable/satellite provider?  Do the new "a la carte" options from HBO, CBS, etc change the outlook on your current setup?  Some context on the type of viewer you are might also be helpful in the discussion, i.e. do you watch alot of sports, how much broadcast TV do you watch a week, etc...

I haven't fully cut the cord yet.  I've had my system up for a month (fine tuning) so I haven't fully experienced it yet.  But I do know there's sacrifices.  Such as multiple interfaces, making it easy for the wife and kids to use.  Lack of free channels. 

A la Carte would need to be reasonable.  I can easily see that option being the same or higher than what we're used to now.  I rather have the tv providers offer a package where you have a choice of 5, 10, 15 etc... channels at a set price.  Prices would need to be reasonable.  But that will never happen because of the networks.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2014, 04:57:21 AM by naednek » Logged
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« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2014, 02:04:15 AM »

Give me access to like 4 stations of my choosing (none of them are ESPN and none of them are the extended cable stations like HBO or Cinemax), along with the usual 'over the air' stations (ABC, NBC, etc), at a reasonable price, and I'll start paying for cable again.

Until that happens, good riddance.
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Ironrod
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« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2014, 03:33:29 AM »

As a cable subscriber, I wish there was a reduced-price no-sports package. I know the sports channel licenses are the cable companies' biggest expenses, and I resent having to pay for them. I also wish I could set the cable guide to hide all the sports channels so that I don't have to constantly surf past them.

I might drop cable when we replace our TV with one that can handle streaming (our current set only has one HDMI port and it's busy, so I can't easily plug in one of those streaming jobbies). Although since we have cable internet, and neither of us wants the complexity of having to assemble our viewing from half a dozen different sources, we'll more likely stick with cable out of laziness and inertia as long as the price doesn't go crazy. I hope cable prices will drop or hold the line as more and more people migrate away from it.

Our cable/internet company is a nonprofit municipal utility so I don't feel the hatred that Comcast and Verizon customers do.
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YellowKing
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« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2014, 04:09:56 AM »

Here's my biggest problem with cable. Not using realistic numbers here, just making it simple.

Let's say I'm a new customer, and I get a great deal and pay $50/month for the first year. First year comes and goes, then it goes up to $100/month. I'm now paying twice as much for the same content. The next year cable prices go up, and I'm now paying $125/month for the same content I was paying $50 for a couple of years ago. My neighbor gets fed up with his high bill, so he calls and threatens to cancel his service. They drop him to $75/month and HBO to make him happy. Meanwhile I haven't called and complained, so guess what? I'll be paying $150/month when they raise prices again in six months, and getting LESS content then neighbor Joe.

How, as a consumer, can you not feel like you're not getting f-ed over when the pricing is all over the map? I can ask five different people what they pay for cable, and I get five different answers.

I would happily pay for cable if I knew I was getting a fair price that was the same as everyone else. Instead, I feel like I'm being ripped off unless I'm willing to call them up and act like an asshole.
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« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2014, 06:11:06 AM »

I agree, YellowKing, nobody rewards loyalty they only reward new customers and people who scam the system.  It's that sort of  general disregard and mistreatment of customers which partially drove me away from cable. 

My general profile:
- mid 30's male making decent money
- cut the cord maybe 4 years ago
- never watch sports
- watch some TV nightly
- use Netflix online and discs
- use Hulu for lots of TV shows
- pay for streaming new seasons of a few choice TV shows (maybe 3-4 per year)

Quote
What are your biggest concerns when it comes to TV viewing?
My concerns and reasons I cut the cord years ago were the monthly cost, troubles with the service, terrible customer service that is antagonistic towards customers and the feeling of general disdain for those who pay money.  I also didn't like supporting a monopolistic company that is consistently rated terrible in so many areas of customer satisfaction and I chose to speak with my wallet.

Of course I also care about other things like quality of service, uninterrupted HD, DVR and/or on-demand watching of shows in a non-live way.  And as others said I don't want to pay for a ton of channels I never use, especially sports, shopping, "news", reality TV and all that garbage. 

I also don't own a house, I rent and don't want to put a dish on the exterior (if that's even allowed).  I end up moving every few years for work so anything that's going to be a hassle is out.

Quote
What, if anything, would it take to make you come back to some sort of cable/satellite provider?
Hmm.  Maybe a cheap ala carte option that doesn't try to rape me per channel, doesn't increase dramatically in price over time, and a company that treats customers like they actually value them.  People like buying from giant companies like Amazon because they provide amazing service for the best price available, and if there are problems they make it right quickly and happily.

Quote
Do the new "a la carte" options from HBO, CBS, etc change the outlook on your current setup?

Not really.  HBO is going to be more than I want to pay per month, guaranteed.  If it was less than $10 then maybe, but I'm sure it will be more like $20 to satisfy the cable and satellite companies.  I'm not going to pay CBS for something that they already provide free over the air, and used to provide for free online.  Trying to squeeze money out of me is the quickest way to drive me away.  I also don't really want to end up paying more for a few services run by different companies that all do things in different ways accessible through different means.

When all is said and done, I think no existing company is going to be able to start some new program or ad campaign to make me change tomorrow.  At this point they need to prove themselves over the long term before I'll even bother to consider them.
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rittchard
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« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2014, 06:28:01 PM »

Great responses, guys!  Keep 'em coming if you have them.  It's all very enlightening.

I know my company is working hard and focusing on improving customer service and customer retention; it's definitely much better than it was 3 or 4 years ago but I still hear stories from my friends that seem to indicate they have a ways to go. 

Unfortunately the stuff that YK mentioned is still prevalent.  I believe it's an unfortunate byproduct of the way the entire system works.  Programmer costs are constantly rising every year, and they continue to try to gouge more at every opportunity, so as providers, the economic model inherently is built to have costs increase over time.  It's not really that you are paying "more for the same content" over time - it's more like Microsoft or Sony selling their consoles initially at a loss to make profit over time with the games.  Both hardware and programming costs have to be de-frayed over time in order to get customers to bite initially.  Which goes to my "threshold" question - if you were given the more realistic price per month to begin with (in YK's example let's say $75/month over two years instead of 50 the first year and 100 the second), would you be more willing to pay it?  Is there some magical number or range that people would be more willing to stomach?  I'm not saying I like this system or agree with it, but I think that's why it is still the way it is.  I've heard some of the numbers of what we are charged per customer from some of the bigger guys and it is really unbelievable, I think people would be shocked; I know I was. 

I do agree that the best idea would be some sort of bundle package where the viewer gets to choose the pieces he wants, but that is likely a logistical nightmare to implement.  But who knows, if that's what people ultimately want maybe someone can figure it out.

Another question comes to mind, since we are more of the tech-oriented people here.  Does newer tech like 4K influence you at all?  Would some form of live 4K content (sports, concerts, etc) drive you to an alternate solution?
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Lee
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« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2014, 07:11:59 PM »

Monthly cost is the biggest concern I have, but it has to be HD, so quality is a close second. I watch very little TV, I only have cable for soccer. If I could cut everything and just pay $20 a month to watch soccer online I would do so in a second.

I just did my first year with Comcast so my bill is jumping from something like $85 to $130 (with internet). That includes HBO, which was free for a year. That's insane to me. I am going to cancel HBO, which I like, but again I don't watch it enough to justify the $20 extra it is a month. I think I would be willing to pay about $5 a month for it. The value just isn't there for me. TV is too expensive for what it is. Sports seems to be the only thing that keeps many people paying for cable.
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EngineNo9
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« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2014, 07:40:07 PM »

Quote from: rittchard on December 05, 2014, 06:28:01 PM

Another question comes to mind, since we are more of the tech-oriented people here.  Does newer tech like 4K influence you at all?  Would some form of live 4K content (sports, concerts, etc) drive you to an alternate solution?

For me, at this point I couldn't care less about 4K.  I have a big 1080p TV I bought a couple years ago and I'm perfectly happy with it.  None of my consoles or PC can output graphics at 4K, none of my existing media is 4K, and most of the streaming I do can hardly keep up with true 1080 as it is. 

Just like 3D, 4K seems like something companies are trying to shove on consumers, not something that consumers are clamoring for.  Maybe in several years when I buy a new TV, but not now.
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rittchard
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« Reply #9 on: December 06, 2014, 01:21:12 AM »

It's really interesting how there's that dividing point of people who watch sports and those who don't, it really makes for a fairly clear break in consumers.

I had another question pop in my head while driving, how about exclusive content?  I guess that's kind of covered by the HBO question, but I guess more pointedly how important is new exclusive content to you?  Personally I pay for Netflix pretty much just for their exclusive shows, I rarely watch anything else with it. 
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leo8877
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« Reply #10 on: December 06, 2014, 01:46:13 AM »

Monthly cost is the big one.  Quality of service is definitely there too.  I've been an ATT Uverse subscriber for about 7 years or so now.  I feel like there are so many channels I don't even look at.  I watch sports first and foremost and then some shows.  My wife watches more shows.  We have a couple movie channels, but only because I had recently called in and said I would cancel if I couldn't get a new sub deal so that I could get new sub prices.  They gave me $60 off my bill if I signed up for a 1 year deal, which I would have had the service anyway for that time.  I get HBO during programs I want to watch.  Most of the time you can just get it for free anyway.
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« Reply #11 on: December 06, 2014, 01:47:40 AM »

The only thing I watch on TV, ever, is sports.  Mainly college football, but some NFL and playoff hockey as well.  Any other programming I either catch on Netflix or through iTunes season passes.  If it's not available through either of those options, I simply don't watch it.  Get all my news online.  The movie channels like HBO or Showtime don't interest me at all.  I'm perfectly content to be a season behind and just watch Game of Thrones when it comes out on iTunes.  smile. Little B 5.8 likes the kids shows on Disney and Nick Jr, but she's not terribly picky and would watch anything as long as it's animated.

If there was a "sports only" package from any provider, I would buy it in a heartbeat.  I'd like to switch to DirectTV to get NFL Sunday Ticket, but since they don't have the Pac12 Network (my main sports interest is Utah football), that's not an option.

I'm mostly low-tech.  I have a decent 52" TV that's about 3 years old, but I couldn't begin to tell you what resolution it is.  I haven't changed out my old cable box/DVR in a long time.  I know Comcast has the fancy new DVR, but I'm pretty sure 99% of its functionality would be lost on me.  As long as I can record a game here and there, that's about all I need. 
« Last Edit: December 06, 2014, 01:52:57 AM by Gratch » Logged

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« Reply #12 on: December 06, 2014, 03:18:42 AM »

Watched way more TV before kids, watch a select few favorite series now.  Watch negligible amounts of sports.  Have not ever had a cable or dish subscription.  Main reason is cost/benefit has never made sense to me, secondary reason is that I've only ever desired a small handful of nonbroadcast channels, and only a small handful of shows on each of those channels.  I'd be far more interested in a $5/month Daily Show & Colbert Report subscription than I'd ever be in a $100 cable/dish subscription.  Almost everything my household wants to watch is on major networks, so over-the-air and a DVR works just fine for us.

I have subscribed to Netflix off and on.  Felt way happier with them before they made the big split of streaming and disc content.

Quote from: rittchard on December 05, 2014, 12:10:14 AM

For those that have "cut the cord" are you happy with the decision?
Over-the-air plus a homebrew SageTV dvr was all I needed for most of the 2000s, and when homebrew DVRs got too ornery for me I switched to over-the-air + TiVo and have been perfectly happy.

Quote
What, if anything, would it take to make you come back to some sort of cable/satellite provider?
Streaming options are insanely disjointed and inconsistent right now.  If you put "just torrent it" as an option in the competition, it's just plain ridiculous how many hoops you have to jump through to stream through legitimate channels in comparison.  Is it even offered for streaming?  Is it on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, or a network site?  Is it per-view or subscription?  Oh it's unavailable this month because a cable network aired it?  Do I have to watch the same two commercials 50 times?  Oh, the crappy proprietary crappy streaming widget crashed and I have to rewatch all the commercial checkpoints all over again?  

Awful.  If someone did for video streaming what iTunes did for mp3 distribution, I would pay a premium for that.  

Quote from: rittchard on December 05, 2014, 06:28:01 PM

Unfortunately the stuff that YK mentioned is still prevalent.

YK's stuff applies to me as well.  If I see an offer for "get X for the first 6 months!" I read it as "you do not get X feature at all!"  I have no interest in jumping through hoops to ensure I keep getting a good deal.  I just want to subscribe or pay my flat fee per content and be done with it.

Quote
Another question comes to mind, since we are more of the tech-oriented people here.  Does newer tech like 4K influence you at all?  Would some form of live 4K content (sports, concerts, etc) drive you to an alternate solution?
A provider with great 4k content may be of interest to me in 6-7 years when it's time for me to replace my TV again.  At the moment 4k content is irrelevant.

Quote from: rittchard on December 06, 2014, 01:21:12 AM

I had another question pop in my head while driving, how about exclusive content?  I guess that's kind of covered by the HBO question, but I guess more pointedly how important is new exclusive content to you?  Personally I pay for Netflix pretty much just for their exclusive shows, I rarely watch anything else with it.  

Exclusive TV content in general annoys me as much as console exclusives annoy me.  I want to have a one-stop shop for my content.  The only way exclusives become palatable is if my personal desirable exclusives all end up being on a single platform so it's a super easy decision for me.
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WorkingMike
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« Reply #13 on: December 06, 2014, 03:44:24 AM »

I only have cable because of the missus. That said, i have hundreds of channels that I don't watch, a DVR that can only record two shows at once and customer service that seems clueless at best. All for 130 a month for cable, phone and internet.

I would cancel, but that won't fly. If someone came along and gave me the ability to buy the shows i actually watch for half the price, I would sign up in a second. Give me the ability to change those channels every quarter or so. Give me stellar customer service with WELL TRAINED people (seriously, train your people to be knowledgeable. I know enough to turn it off and back on again. Stop reading from a script). You have to be able to provide more value than my 9 dollar Netflix sub.

You get that in line, and EVERYONE will sign up.

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« Reply #14 on: December 06, 2014, 05:29:59 AM »

Quote from: rittchard on December 05, 2014, 06:28:01 PM

Unfortunately the stuff that YK mentioned is still prevalent.  I believe it's an unfortunate byproduct of the way the entire system works.  Programmer costs are constantly rising every year, and they continue to try to gouge more at every opportunity, so as providers, the economic model inherently is built to have costs increase over time.  It's not really that you are paying "more for the same content" over time ...

You can say "that's just how this system works", but to me, the first company that flips this model on it's head is going to be rewarded for it.  If you want to pull out of a steep decline, don't keep doing the same thing.
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leo8877
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« Reply #15 on: December 06, 2014, 05:32:05 AM »

Quote from: EngineNo9 on December 06, 2014, 05:29:59 AM

Quote from: rittchard on December 05, 2014, 06:28:01 PM

Unfortunately the stuff that YK mentioned is still prevalent.  I believe it's an unfortunate byproduct of the way the entire system works.  Programmer costs are constantly rising every year, and they continue to try to gouge more at every opportunity, so as providers, the economic model inherently is built to have costs increase over time.  It's not really that you are paying "more for the same content" over time ...

You can say "that's just how this system works", but to me, the first company that flips this model on it's head is going to be rewarded for it.  If you want to pull out of a steep decline, don't keep doing the same thing.

They can't because all the power is with the comcasts and time warners and they don't want to split up these massive subscription packages.
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Ironrod
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« Reply #16 on: December 07, 2014, 02:49:32 AM »

Quote from: WorkingMike on December 06, 2014, 03:44:24 AM

If someone came along and gave me the ability to buy the shows i actually watch for half the price, I would sign up in a second. Give me the ability to change those channels every quarter or so.

That would indeed be the magic bullet. Someday someone will figure out how to implement it. I don't know how many channels we get -- well over 100 -- yet between us my wife and I probably never watch more than 10 of them.

My cable company tries to accommodate by offering tiers ranging from basic cable to superdeluxe digital HD plus plus plus, but that just ends up being overcomplicated and confusing. Don't make me choose between your packages; let me design my own package. I realize that licensing agreements and pricing are what make it impossible. One of these days the consumers will get the upper hand over the providers. That day draws nearer with every person who dumps cable and cobbles together the sources that they want. Too much trouble for me -- I want one bill, one program guide, one controller -- but I salute those of you who have the patience and fortitude to go your own way.

(edit) Better yet, let us subscribe to shows instead of channels. That's how people watch TV. I don't care or even know what network most of my stories are on. Man, that would totally shake up the entertainment industry.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2014, 02:54:07 AM by Ironrod » Logged

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