Wednesday, October 08, 2014

High TV content costs threaten the “triple play” commercial Internet infrastructure business model

Television programming costs associated with the “triple play” (TV, Internet, voice) offering of legacy telcos and cable companies are the primary business risk facing the subscription-based, closed access, “own the customer” infrastructure business model employed by the legacy telephone and cable companies as well as Google Fiber.

Those costs are steep and threaten the viability of commercial fiber to the premise deployments that depend on future cash flows from service offerings – which include TV – to cover CAPex and provide ROI to investors.

Susan P. Crawford’s book Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age describes the self-reinforcing TV programming market dynamics that cement the dominance of the big subscription-based incumbent telcos and cablecos – and Comcast in particular for live sporting events. These large players can afford the high TV programming costs. But large scale notwithstanding, it’s not TV for all since the big legacy telcos and cablecos cherry pick their service areas, leaving lots of consumers redlined and without Internet TV since they opt not to build the infrastructure to deliver it.

One possible way around this negative circumstance would be for the OTT Internet TV content players to organize consumers into large regional purchasing pools and cater to smaller providers as well as open access community fiber networks operated by local governments and utility cooperatives. That would shift market power to the purchasing side while at the same time bolstering these home grown Internet infrastructure players.

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