Cordkillers 120 – Where’s Your ALF, HBO?

Ad money is flooding towards digital but will the networks get flooded out? Plus Hulu and YouTube build online cable services and Mohu turns cable boxes into antennas.

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CordKillers: Ep. 120 – Where’s Your ALF, HBO?
Recorded:  May 9 2016
Guest: None

Intro Video

  • Brian’s Dad talks “civil war”

Primary Target

  • The TV business isn’t dead, far from it really
    – Wired’s Julia Greenberg has an excellent writeup on the health of TV (not cable, but broadcasters)
    – This month, CBS, Fox and Time Warner all reported advertising revenue growth
    – CNN and Fox reported higher ratings (election)
    – Digital ad spending rising but TV spending staying strong
    – Advertisers consider Hulu, apps etc “digital spend” separate budget from linear TV.
  • YouTube says its primetime audience is bigger than the top 10 TV networks combined
    – YT CEO Susan Wojcicki
    – “Today, I’m happy to announce that on mobile alone YouTube now reaches more 18–49-year-olds than any network — broadcast or cable. In fact, we reach more 18–49-year-olds during primetime than the top 10 TV shows combined” – Numbers from Nielsen study.
    – 21 million watched Coachella on YouTube. 2x American Idol finale
  • Coming, broadcast TV’s big comeuppance
    – TV ad rates rising even if ratings falling
    – Major ad-buyer Magna Global (Coke, Johnson & Johnson moving $250 mm from TV to YouTube.
    – Online ad spending can be diluted
    – Primetime is down 7 percent this season among adults 18-34s, according to Nielsen, about a quarter lower than 4 years ago.

Signal Intelligence

  • Hulu grows to 12 million subscribers, prepares new interactive ads for living room TVs
    – Hulu had lots to say at its NewFront event for advertisers in New York.
    – Hulu has grown 33% over the past year to 12 million subscribers.
    – Hours per viewer is up 30% too.
    – Hulu will bring interactive ads to big screen versions of the service and collaborate with Nielsen on campaign level ratings for advertisers.
    – Contentwise the Path and Mindy Project are renweed for next season and Ron Howard’s Beatles documentary Eight Days A Week will come to Hulu’s new Documentary Films this autumn.
    – CEO Mike Hopkins confirmed that the company plans to bring a live sports news and events service to customers in 2017. 
  • YouTube Said to Plan ‘Unplugged’ Online TV Service for 2017
    – Bloomberg reports its sources tell it YouTube is planning another subscription based streaming service called Unplugged that would include network and cable channels. YouTube has supposedly been working on the product since 2012 and plans to launch in 2017 at around $35 a month with add-ons available, although it has yet to strike any deals.

Gear Up

Front Lines

  • Spotify is working on 12 new original video series
    – Spotify announced it will bring out 12 original TV series about music and pop culture. Episodes will be less than 15 minutes long for iOS and Android in US, UK, Germany and Sweden. Among the shows will be Rush Hour from Russell Simmons, Landmark a doc series based on the music history podcast and Trading Playlists. 
  • Disney wants to write a very big check to buy part of MLB’s video streaming company
    – Sources tell ReCode that Disney would like to acquire 1/3 of BAM Tech, formerly known as MLB Advanced Media, the backend for MLB, ESPN and HBO Now among others. MLB is looking to spin the company out and is talking to other potential buyers as well. 
  • Ellen Degeneres launches a network with YouTube, Snapchat stars
    – Ellen Degeneres in partnership with Warner Bros. is launching the Ellen Digital Network with YouTube star Tyler Oakley making shows for Web and TV and the folks behind “Damn Daniel” building an original series for Snapchat. 
  • Amazon offers NBC’s Seeso comedy service as a streaming add-on
    – NBC’s streaming comedy service called Seeso is available as an add-on for Amazon Prime. It’s the same $3.99 you’d pay if you bought it on its own. 
  • Netflix now lets you adjust streaming quality over cell connections
    – Netflix’s latest app for iOS and Android allows users to chose what quality of video it streams when using cellular data connections. Netflix admitted in March that it automatically limits video quality for AT&T and Verizon customers on cell data. It will continue to do so but customers can override the choice. Settings are described by the number of hours that stream per gigabyte. Connections are unaffected over WiFi. 
  • Netflix’s CEO is skeptical of VR because you can’t binge-watch
    – Netflix CEO Reed Hastings told VentureBeat he thinks VR will be great for gaming but not for lean-back TV shows. “You’re exhausted after 20 minutes.” Chief content officer Ted Sarandos said, “I can’t imagine putting on a VR headset while sitting on the couch with my wife for two hours and just disappearing.” Of course the market isn’t near big enough yet either.  

Under Surveillance

Dispatches from the Front
Congrats to Big Cable on phony impressive growth! In this past quarter we dumped U-Verse at $165 a month for Xnfinity for Internet and PlayStation Vue. No phone sales pitch. Just online it was $50 for Internet with a 20 channel package and one nonDVR set top box or MORE for just Internet. 

The cable box is still on my desk in shrink wrap. Don’t want it. Won’t use it. But I count as a new TV subscriber. Cord killing is not dead yet!



Hey Tom and Brian,

This week I’m going to call Comcast and cancel cable. My wife and I have been paying for cable, Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime (mostly for the shipping) for a while now and we find ourselves using the cable box less and less. One of the things that have hindered us from cancelling cable has been those few shows like The Walking Dead and Better Call Saul, etc… that we just can’t get on those other three streaming services without paying extra to buy the whole season of a show which we really don’t care about owning and watching again. I know there are options through Sling TV and Sony PlayStation Vue that might help with this but that’s just adding even more services we don’t want, and they have their own issues with dropping out or freezing up as we’ve heard Brian and Tom.

This past weekend while Tom was in town for SF Night Attack Live, we spoke this and he helped me realize that by paying for a few seasons of shows a year, even if you never watch it again, you still come out ahead. 

So, I did some math. Let’s assume you pay $100 a month for cable and 2 cable boxes. That’s $1,200 a year you’re spending on cable. Looking at Amazon Video, a season of a TV show costs between $25 and $42. Using the worst case scenario, you could buy 28 full seasons of shows a year for $1200. If there are 6 shows you just can’t live without, and you buy them on Amazon Video at $42 each, that’s $252. That means if you cancel cable at $1200 a year and spend $252 at Amazon on those 6 shows you end up saving $948 a year.  So who cares if you never watch them again.\

In my opinion, if you haven’t cancelled cable yet, you should. Of course, if it’s working for you and you’re happy then enjoy watching what you want, when you want. on whatever damn cable or dish device you want to.

Just some thoughts an a family about to cancel cable.

Thanks and love Cord Killers and all the shows you do.

Preston (AKA Biocow)”



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