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Monthly Archives: November 2017

NFL Ratings Continue Tanking on Thanksgiving

According to a report from CNN, the NFL’s three Thanksgiving Day games dropped about 20% in the ratings compared to last year:

The league’s three national holiday games dropped in viewership by a combined average of roughly 19% compared to last year’s ratings. Fox’s early afternoon game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Detroit Lions was down 10% in viewership from the early game on CBS last year; CBS’ late afternoon game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Los Angeles Chargers was down 25% from the afternoon game on Fox last year; and NBC’s prime time game between the New York Giants and the Washington Redskins was down 19%.

Even though the NFL commands a larger audience than most of TV, the ratings hit is eye-popping since Thanksgiving is a major holiday for the league and its broadcast partners. It’s also more ratings woes for a league that is already beset by two seasons of uneven numbers.

While President Trump would have you believe that the ratings drop is entirely due to anthem protests—and that does play into it—it’s actually a combination of factors that have led to ratings drops for America’s most popular televised sport on broadcast and cable TV. Sure, there are some viewers dissatisfied with players kneeling for the anthem. There are also two football markets who have lost their teams in the past two years—there aren’t a lot of St. Louis Rams or San Diego Chargers fans wasting time watching their teams play in front of half-empty stadiums in Los Angeles. People are more and more informed about the dangers of football and abandoning it for that reason. The owners are bleeding public money out of cities for stadiums. And, to top it all off, the play just isn’t that good.

That was especially the case on Thanksgiving Day, with the Cowboys-Chargers mid-day game especially unwatchable. The Giants-Redskins game was a little better, but those two teams are having seasons that are lackluster at best. What was once a showcase day for the NFL—who owned Thanksgiving the way the NBA now owns Christmas—is now just another Thursday featuring bad football games. And you can get those every day of the week.

NBA National TV Schedule for December

Though the NBA season officially began in October, it doesn’t begin for many fans until Christmas Day, when basketball dominates the TV schedule with marquee games, and many NFL teams are long out of the running for a playoff spot.

There’s plenty of nationally televised basketball to go around the entire month of December, though, both on broadcast networks and cable TV. Below is the national TV schedule for December for the NBA. Enjoy the games.

Friday, December 1
8:00 PM T’Wolves-Thunder NBA TV
Sunday, December 3
7:00 PM Spurs-Thunder NBA TV
9:30 PM Rockets-Lakers NBA TV
Monday, December 4
7:30 PM Bucks-Celtics NBA TV
Tuesday, December 5
7:30 PM Suns-Raptors NBA TV
10:00 PM Wizards-Blazers NBA TV
Wednesday, December 6
8:00 PM Warriors-Hornets
Only on CSN in Bay Area
10:30 PM T’Wolves-Clippers ESPN
Thursday, December 7
8:00 PM Lakers-Sixers TNT
10:30 PM Rockets-Jazz TNT
Friday, December 8
7:00 PM Warriors-Pistons
Only on CSN in Bay Area
9:30 PM Celtics-Spurs ESPN
Saturday, December 9
6:00 PM Heat-Nets NBA TV
8:30 PM Jazz-Bucks NBA TV
Monday, December 11
8:00 PM Pelicans-Rockets NBA TV
10:30 PM Raptors-Clippers NBA TV
Tuesday, December 12
7:00 PM Lakers-Knicks ESPN
9:30 PM Spurs-Mavericks ESPN
Wednesday, December 13
7:00 PM Thunder-Pacers ESPN
9:30 PM Hornets-Rockets ESPN
Thursday, December 14
8:00 PM Lakers-Cavs TNT
10:30 PM Mavericks-Warriors TNT
Friday, December 15
7:00 PM Thunder-Sixers ESPN
9:30 PM Spurs-Rockets ESPN
Saturday, December 16
8:00 PM Thunder-Knicks
Added to schedule
Monday, December 18
8:00 PM Nuggets-Thunder NBA TV
10:30 PM Warriors-Lakers NBA TV
Tuesday, December 19
8:00 PM Cavs-Bucks NBA TV
Wednesday, December 20
8:00 PM Lakers-Rockets NBA TV
10:30 PM Grizzlies-Warriors NBA TV
Thursday, December 21
8:00 PM Celtics-Knicks TNT
10:30 PM Spurs-Jazz TNT
Friday, December 22
8:00 PM Clippers-Rockets ESPN
10:30 PM Lakers-Warriors ESPN
Monday, December 25
Noon Sixers-Knicks ESPN
3:00 PM Cavs-Warriors ABC
5:30 PM Wizards-Celtics ABC
8:00 PM Rockets-Thunder ABC
10:30 PM T’Wolves-Lakers TNT
Tuesday, December 26
8:00 PM Bulls-Bucks NBA TV
10:30 PM Kings-Clippers NBA TV
Wednesday, December 27
8:00 PM Raptors-Thunder NBA TV
10:30 PM Jazz-Warriors NBA TV
Thursday, December 28
8:00 PM Rockets-Celtics TNT
10:30 PM Sixers-Blazers TNT
Friday, December 29
7:00 PM Rockets-Wizards NBA TV
10:00 PM Suns-Kings NBA TV

Comcast to Raise Cable TV Rates in January

Comcast, the largest cable TV provider in the United States, will be raising rates nationwide at an average of about 2.2%. The details of the price increase in each of Comcast’s markets are not yet available, but if you use Comcast for cable TV, know that your bill will be higher come the first of the year.

From the Chattanooga Times Free Press:

“The costs we are charged to carry popular networks continue to increase significantly — especially broadcast television and sports programming,” [company spokeswoman Sara Jo] Walker said Friday. Walker said Comcast customers will see an increase in the broadcast TV fee and the sports fee.

According to Consumer Reports, Comcast raised prices this year by an average of 3.8 percent, with the amount varying by package. In addition, the company’s broadcast TV fee jumped from $5 to $7 each month, and the regional sports fee rose from $3 to $5 per month.

Walker said Comcast continues to make significant investments in its network and technologies to speed its Internet service and provide more WiFi hotspots, more video across viewing screens and innovations like X1.

It may seem like as traditional cable TV providers lose subscribers, those who stick with cable TV will be left holding the bill, but the truth of the matter is that cable companies have always consistently raised prices on subscribers, and will continue to do so as long as they hold the monopoly on some of the most desirable content—ESPN and its family of networks and regional networks airing live sports.

They will also be able to keep hold of customers as long as they are the primary option for high-speed internet in areas where they are also the main cable carrier. Until more competition develops in that space, Comcast and the other big companies will continue to raise their rates, and customers will complain…but still keep paying.

Amazon Will Not Compete in the Cable TV Space

Amazon is backing down on their latest bid for world domination, ditching plans to launch their own streaming service as a competition to traditional cable TV providers. According to a Reuters report, Amazon believes it will not be profitable enough, but there are other potential causes, including the departure of Amazon Studios head Roy Price in the wake of sexual harassment allegations and the reluctance of popular broadcast and basic cable networks to break with their old business models and partnerships with cable and satellite providers.

More from the Reuters report:

Sources familiar with the talks said Amazon has run up against the same obstacle that has stymied firms such as Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N) in their efforts to launch TV services: the traditional cable bundle.

Twenty-First Century Fox Inc (FOXA.O), Viacom Inc (VIAB.O) and other media firms typically require cable companies or other partners to take their weaker channels along with their stronger ones, to prevent the weaker ones withering on the vine.

Amazon did not want to do that. It also asked networks for provisions that are foreign to the entertainment business, including discounts based on the volume of subscribers it brings in. “That might be standard in selling, but it is not how it works with content,” said one industry source.

Amazon’s business model has worked in just about every other arena it’s tried, and with distribution centers popping up all over the place offering almost instantaneous delivery, it’s only a matter of time before they have a complete monopoly over ecommerce. The cable TV industry is a stubborn one, though, so we’ll see if Amazon’s next attempt meets with more success, or is stonewalled yet again.

What is “High-Speed Internet” Anyways?

When you’re shopping your internet options, no doubt the phrase “high-speed internet” appears often in what you’re reading. But what does that really mean, and how is it defined beyond being a popularly searched term?

What is considered high-speed internet is more formally referred to as broadband internet, but in America even that definition has changed over time, as outlined in a recent Washington Post article. Up until 2015, broadband internet was classified as anything with an average download speed of 4 Mbps, which, before streaming became so commonplace, was fast enough for most residential users. In 2015, the FCC revised to 25 Mbps downloads and 3 Mbps uploads.

With these new classifications, 55 million Americans did not have access to high-speed internet, and the FCC had a mission to make broadband internet accessible to those 55 million people. Now, it’s 2017, and what is the plan?

To change the definition of high-speed, broadband internet, of course.

That’s right, instead of doing the work to build the infrastructure to bring affordable internet access to these people, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai wants to define broadband internet as 10 Mbps download speeds and 1 Mbps upload speeds. That definition will make the amount of people “without high-speed internet access” lessen by half overnight.

Of course, this does nothing to solve the problem, but it puts the problem out of the public eye and makes people feel better, all while costing the government very little.

In this day and age, access to the internet isn’t a luxury for middle-class homes and above for entertainment. It’s essential for education, for job searches, to be a part of the modern world. Rural communities, especially, are falling way behind, and those far outside of urban centers need the connection even more. Hopefully the FCC does the right thing and lowers the number the right way—by actually increasing the amount of people who have access, rather than decreasing the standard.

How Many People Ditched Cable TV in Q3 of 2017?

More and more people are ditching traditional cable TV providers, according to a report from Leichtman Research Group, Inc. In the third quarter of 2017, the largest pay-TV providers in the United States, representing about 95% of the market—the other 5% accounting for various small local providers yet to be subsumed by the larger companies—lost nearly half a million subscribers in Q3 of 2017, as compared to a net loss of around a quarter of a million over the same time period in 2016.

In addition, according to the company’s release:

“The top pay-TV providers account for 92.2 million subscribers — with the top six cable companies having 48.1 million video subscribers, satellite TV services about 32.3 million subscribers, the top telephone companies 9.3 million subscribers, and the top Internet-delivered pay-TV services having about 2.5 million subscribers.”

The two major satellite TV providers were the biggest losers, with DIRECTV and DISH Network losing 251,000 and 224,000 respectively. Cable giant Comcast lost 126,000 subscribers, and Charter Spectrum lost around 90,000. AT&T U-Verse also lost big, with more than 135,000 subscribers ditching the phone provider’s cable TV option.

The trends are looking up in only one area—internet-delivered, cable TV like packages. Both Sling TV and DIRECTV NOW, delivered via internet connections as opposed to their regular satellite TV counterparts, grew by 240,000 and 296,000 subscribers respectively. The advantages to these packages—lower cost, less hardware and installation, and the ability to further curate slimmer channel lineups based on your particular taste, fall in line with what many consumers are looking for. Basically, if you don’t want ESPN or HBO, Sling TV can give you a package tailored to your taste at far below the cost. Look for the industry to trend this way in the future, as following the leader is the way of this business.