The trend of disruption in traditional media and entertainment models seems to be growing stronger every day. It’s now commonplace to read about mega mergers between enormous companies, record contracts doled out to content producers, and newly minted businesses overseen by brilliant minds that promise to finally capitalize on the opportunity presented by new formats like mobile video.
In an environment where there are a virtually endless amount of interesting cases, though, one in particular stands out to me, Hulu. Sitting at an intersection of a few different pieces of the media environment, Hulu offers a unique case. It’s a streaming service, and it recently added a package with live TV. It boasts The Handmaid’s Tale, a show that won Outstanding Drama series before any show from Netflix or Amazon did, but it is not typically considered to be on the same tier as either of those players. It’s owned by Disney, 21st Century Fox, Comcast, and Turner, meaning that it has a major interest in how both the AT&T/Time Warner (Turner’s parent company) and Disney/21st Century Fox mergers play out. It has an impressive 17 million subscribers, and yet it lost a reported $920 million last year.
Time Warner Cable was far from perfect, but it will be difficult to let it rest in peace.
When it comes to spewing vitriol, hell hath no fury like an angry Time Warner Cable customer. This shouldn’t come as a surprise since it has the worst customer service score in any industry, according to a 2015 survey by ACSI. A litmus test for terrible service could be when a celebrity the likes of Sir Patrick Stewart loses the will to live, or so he conveyed on Twitter.
St. Louis, MO-based Charter Communications has recently acquired both Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, making it a Jedi force to be reckoned with amongst cable providers, now serving more than 25 million customers. With Liberty Broadband’s backing as Charter’s main shareholder, a new vision for the industry as a whole might well be in the making. And with the players of that industry generally being poorly rated on customer satisfaction surveys, for Charter Communications that vision seems to require a break from what we know: terminating its legacy brands and forging a new one for all its consumer-facing cable operations — Spectrum.