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February 1: Time to Cut the Cord?
By: Mike Bush
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After posting fantastic year-end results, Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix called their upcoming show “a defining moment of Internet TV.” Starring Kevin Spacey, House of Cards is set to go live on February 1, with the full season available at the launch (the idea of tuning in once a week for 13 episodes is being turned on its head). If you love the first episode, you can go right onto the second.
 
Brilliant, right?
 
It isn’t the only series Netflix is planning on using this strategy for. Shows such as Lilyhammer and Arrested Development will be handled the same way. However, we’ll see if Hastings proves correct (and I’m rooting for him).
 
There are two major challenges to truly challenging traditional TV.
  • First, as pointed out in a guest column on GigaOm, is that TV viewing has historically been a passive activity, with people finding something to watch by “accident.” It’s like the Seinfeld episode when the TV executive asks George why someone should watch a show about nothing, and George replies “Because it’s on TV.”
(Note: As memory serves, the TV exec, Russell Dalrymple replies, "Not yet it isn’t.")
 
Getting customer behavior to shift gears has always been a huge barrier to entry to for Internet TV to truly replace cable, and that barrier remains.
  • Second, live events, such as sports, are usually a major reason given by non-cord-cutters as to why they stay with cable. Very interestingly, these same people who will pay well over $100 for a monthly cable package won’t necessarily pay for individual events. For example, last year live streams of March Madness dropped a bit when a paywall was instituted for full tournament coverage.
Again, getting consumers to change behavior isn’t easy, and since consumers haven’t paid for online content much (if at all), this is a dramatic shift to consumer behavior. That said, while getting consumers to pay for online content hasn’t yet worked, that doesn’t mean people aren’t still trying.
 
At the end of the day, February 1 will likely be the release date for a (hopefully) great new show. However, I’m not sure it will be the day that Internet TV arrives in full.
 
For flacks, it continues to be worth monitoring the TV and Internet TV landscape. Any shift in either space can have us pitching a whole new industry.

   

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About the Author
Mike Bush is a PR and Marketing freelancer with more than a dozen years of experience in the field. Find him on and connect Twitter @mikebush or at www.mikebush.nyc. 
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