Last stands are always poetic. In America, we think of Custer; in France, the Mur des Fédérés. New to that list: Video on Demand. Video on Demand is what the cable companies expect will put them back in the game to compet
e with Netflix and Hulu.
A group including Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Sony Pictures, and Universal Pictures have announced a $30 million ad campaign to bring attention to VOD as an alternative to Netflix and web TV. The campaign is called “The Video Store Just Moved In,” which is strange because in reality the video store just closed down.
Netflix has already annihilated Blockbuster, which may be heading into bankruptcy after losing nearly $400 million this period. (In comparison, Netflix gained 1.1 million users in Q4 2009). And DVD sales fell 13 percent last year as broadband penetration continues to lay waste to disks of any sort.
Is this a ‘dying of the light’ situation. Not quite, but getting closer.
Cable companies like to forget that pretty much the only relevance they had was that they were once near-exclusive content providers. Outside of Netflix and piracy, Hulu and other like sites make the cable bill redundant.
Video on Demand meets a market demand for those who haven’t yet dropped cable for Netflix + Hulu, that is to say, a market growing slimmer every day.
Cable does have a few things still going for it. The post-Sopranos TV landscape has turned cable channels like HBO and Showtime into producers of some of the best original content out there. Hollywood’s backing doesn’t hurt, either.
The only real chance cable companies have is to lock up the content and make it more difficult and/or expensive to get it any other way, like back in the golden days of rental stores.