Broadband Cable Association of Pennsylvania


April 17, 2013

Marketers increasingly are focused on teenagers and young adults who are coming of age during the digital revolution -- creating shifts in viewing behavior that likely will have profound consequences for television companies.

Ratings giant Nielsen on Tuesday released a study that explored viewing behavior of the so-called millennial generation -- the demographic roughly between the ages of 14 and 34. The report found that younger Americans are more multicultural than older Americans. It also documented that teenagers were more likely to watch videos on their mobile phones than any other age group, explaining the mad rush by media companies and advertisers to figure out how to produce entertainment for phones and other portable devices. "Teens like to watch on mobile more than anyone else," the Nielsen report said. "They watched 18% more video on their mobile phones than persons [ages] 18-24 and 46% more than persons [ages] 25-34 in the fourth quarter of 2012."

The question, according to Nielsen and other experts, is whether young consumers eventually will act more like their parents -- plopped in front of their television sets -- or forever connected to their phones to a greater degree than their computers or TV sets. While there is no definitive answer, "Combined trends suggest that teens will continue to view content on mobile and the Internet as they age," Nielsen said. That's not too surprising. Smartphone penetration has increased and companies are creating new applications and producing far more content for mobile devices than they were even two years ago. TV companies have found that comedy bits work well on mobile, which should accelerate the networks' push to step up their comedy game.

This spring, NBC announced that it would replace "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno with comedian Jimmy Fallon next year in a bid to chase younger viewers. Fallon has been one of the most popular TV comedians online (although Fallon trails Ellen DeGeneres and ABC's Jimmy Kimmel in terms of YouTube channel views.) What about the next generation? Look for promising comedians such as Aziz Ansari to get increased exposure. "Today's teens and young adults are quite the multicultural bunch-with purchasing power to boot," Nielsen said. About 42% of young adults and teenagers are Latinos, African Americans and Asian Americans. "This is only the tip of the iceberg - U.S. Census data shows that African-Americans, Asian-Americans and Hispanics will generate the vast majority of the U.S. population growth over the next few decades," the report found. Los Angeles Times

Dish Network Chairman Charlie Ergen once compared his corporate strategy to an episode of "Seinfeld." "You initially didn't know exactly where things were going, but it seemed to all come together in the end," he said. "This is what is happening at Dish." For Ergen, that means turning a satellite broadcaster into a telecommunications giant. Concerned about slow growth in the pay-TV business, Ergen has made a $25.5-billion unsolicited bid for Sprint Nextel. A merger would give Dish the ability to package Internet and phone service with its satellite offerings. "A transformative DISH/Sprint merger will create the only company that can offer customers a convenient, fully integrated, nationwide bundle of in- and out-of-home video, broadband and voice services," Ergen said. Ergen, a gambler who once made a living playing cards, isn't afraid of taking chances. In this case, though, his move is more about defense than offense.

With 14 million satellite-TV subscribers, Dish trails only Comcast Corp. and DirecTV among video providers. But growth in the industry has slowed in recent years and there are concerns about its future. Competition for customers is growing more intense and programming costs, particularly for sports, continue to skyrocket. Furthermore, younger consumers are increasingly bypassing pay-TV in favor of Netflix and other digital platforms for their entertainment. "Dish faces enormous challenges," said Susan Crawford, a communications professor at Cardozo Law School and author of "Captive Audience," a just-released book about the state of the telecommunications industry. "It's a gamble, but if they are going to grow, they need to diversify."

Dish is used to doing battle with rival distributors and squaring off against programmers. If it lands Sprint, though, it will face real juggernauts in AT&T and Verizon. "Verizon and AT&T are the monsters," Crawford said. Dish, which already markets itself as the low-cost alternative to other pay-TV distributors, could take the same approach with Sprint. "Right now, AT&T and Verizon can charge whatever they want and raise prices with impunity. This potentially creates a strong competitor, which may be good for consumers," Crawford said.

For Ergen and Dish, Sprint is just one more ball in the air to juggle. It is caught up in an ugly legal fight with media giants News Corp., CBS, Comcast and Walt Disney Co. over its commercial-skipping digital video recorder known as the AutoHop. Its efforts to rebrand Blockbuster from a video store chain to an online streaming service is still a work in progress. So yes, in that sense the "Seinfeld" analogy is correct. There are lots of different plots going on at once at Dish. But Ergen should remember there's something else about "Seinfeld" he should avoid. It was the show about nothing. Los Angeles Times

Google Inc is experiencing a small outage of some of its popular applications such as Gmail and Google Drive, the search engine said on Wednesday. The company disclosed on its website that six of its 13 applications were having partial status disruptions. The issue with Gmail, for example, is affecting less than 0.007 percent of Google Mail users, who cannot access their accounts. Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Associated Press

Gov. Tom Corbett is ordering that Pennsylvania flags be lowered to half-staff as part of a national tribute to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings. Corbett said Tuesday he is following the lead of President Barack Obama, who ordered that all United States flags be lowered. Pennsylvania flags will remain at half-staff through sunset on Saturday. Corbett, in Chile winding up a South America trade mission, says the thoughts and prayers of all Pennsylvanians are with the people of Boston and the victims of Monday's bombings. In a conference call with Pennsylvania reporters, Corbett said his administration is discussing possible security measures that may be taken in Pennsylvania in response to the tragedy. He says he'll provide specifics when they're available. Associated Press