but how long will DIRECTV and DISH
be able to press their advantage?"
www.SkyReport.com - used with permission
SkyBOX: by Evie Haskell evie@Mediabiz.com
Is the cable industry now so big ... and so far ahead of the technology curve ... that it can't be beat?
The cable guys certainly think so. At the NCTA's Cable Show last week the air was full of talk about cable's impregnable position in video-voice-data markets. Richard Parsons of Time Warner noted that cable today is a huge business with "both incumbency and the first mover advantage" in its services. King Brian of Comcast pointed proudly to cable's recent wireless spectrum purchases, noting that the industry now has "99 percent of the country" covered. And Comcast's Steve Burke waxed lyrical on the "integrity" of cable's service packages where "it becomes very hard for the consumer to drop" any one product without losing important pieces of the overall service.
In short: They're huge, they've bought up the landscape, and they've got consumers by the throat.
Time to lay down your weapons and surrender?
Ummm ... that may be a tad premature. To be sure, the cable folks are in an enviable position. Their broadband pipes are an awesome weapon ... and they're wielding that weapon with considerable skill. But the satellite industry, the telcos and the non-cable wireless crowd all have significant strengths of their own. Satellite, for instance, cannot be beat for the quality of its broadcast video ... and the scramble for new technologies designed to squeeze more into cable's existing pipe suggests that DIRECTV and DISH will be able to press this advantage for some time to come. As for the telcos ... they're even bigger than the cable guys and their deep, deep pockets are coming into play with a host of new triple/quadruple play options. (Said a friend of ours when confronted with cable's dismissal of a telco threat: "What ARE they smoking?") The independent wireless companies have advantages in both speed of deployment and cost of service. And, of course, we should not forget the traditional broadcasters. Between their political clout and new digital spectrum, they certainly plan to emerge as significant multiplatform players.
So despite the chest thumping in Las Vegas, we think the battle has just begun. But then, hey, what's a trade show for anyway?