Glenn Beck: When Will Cable Companies Sell Products People Actually Want? (Guest Column)

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Glenn Beck

"Every additional bundled channel that I will never watch is just another added reason for me to cut the cord," the former Fox News host writes.

The digital media landscape moves so quickly that even Moore’s law can’t keep up. The terms “digital” and “media” have become synonymous. Traditional media companies do not seem to get it.

Every day, my team and I struggle with the best way to define our business and stay relevant to our audience, balancing linear distribution, OTT and newer channels like Facebook Instant.

How can a media company be more than just the content it creates?

This is not an easy question and there is no easy answer. But every day, even when we fail, we predicate all our decisions on what is best for the user.

This brings me to the question for which that I truly have no answer.

Why do the cable companies carry channels that no one watches? Actually, let me put a finer point on this: Why do cable companies carry channels that are in contrivance with the values of their customers?



In the age of cord cutting, where more and more consumers opt out of cable by marrying broadband with Internet-connected devices like Apple TV, why are cable companies providing bundles that their customers don’t want? In an app-driven world, unlimited channels make sense. I can build my own bundle. But in a cable world, shouldn’t cable companies be more judicious in their selection and more importantly, shouldn’t cable companies actually understand and care about their customers?

As a consumer of cable and as a start-up founder, I recognize that if we truly unbundle cable packages I will be paying more for the channels I want individually than the bundles I currently have.

However, many cable subscribers don’t necessarily understand the calculus and wonder why they pay $100 (or more) for hundreds of channels they will never watch.

That brings me to Al Jazeera. Besides Al Jazeera, did anyone in America believe that there was a business to be had in the U.S. market? No, seriously … anyone?

So why do cable companies carry Current TV and then allow Al Jazeera to buy their distribution?

Every additional bundled channel that I will never watch is just another added reason for me to cut the cord.

I get Lifetime — I may watch a movie once a year.

I get the Golf Channel. Well, I get it in my cable bundle, even though I don’t actually “get” why we need a Golf Channel. But I get why some people want the Golf Channel.

But Al Jazeera?

How disconnected must those who are fighting to keep us plugged in be from the heartbeat of this country?

If you want to argue that people need the media equivalent of Pepsi/Coke, okay, MSNBC, you can stay. But Al Jazeera? Who in their right mind would want the propaganda wing of the Qatar government on their cable box?

What about Russia Today? I mean Ed Schultz now has a show ... isn’t that a sign that Russia Today has jumped the shark?

I can go down the list.

At the same time, we see great movies that do well at the box office, like American Sniper, Lone Survivor and likely 13 Hours. Movies that speak to the heartbeat of who we are as a people and as a nation. But they are few and far between.

At what point does capitalism prevail and do cable companies and media companies start to get it? When do their shareholders demand that they start respecting their customers (or former customers) and focus on products that people actually want?

I ask these questions as a radio host who prides myself on having a feel for the pulse of my audience, but also as a media entrepreneur having no understanding at how to get the media industry to understand.

There are over 100 million Americans who don’t want what you are selling. When will you sell them something they will buy?

Glenn Beck, a former Fox News host, is the founder of Mercury Radio Arts and TheBlaze.

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