Looking Ahead To A Post-Cable Box Era In Television

It’s been a few days since the FCC voted to open the set top box market for consumers. Now that the initial sting has worn off, you’re most likely looking and ahead asking “what do I do next?”

We feel your pain. This announcement was a tough one for the cable industry, as set top box rental fees generate about $200 million of revenue annually.

Indeed, we’re entering into a brave new cable television industry the FCC once again attempts to shift “the power” from cable companies to consumers and operators must therefore find new ways deliver service. Just look at the words of FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai following the announcement:

“Our goal should not be to unlock the box,” he said. “It should be to eliminate the box. If you are a cable customer and you don’t want to have a set-top box, you shouldn’t be required to have one.”

The message is loud and clear: The days of set top boxes, and perhaps traditional video delivery as we know it, are numbered. Now, that’s not to say that cable television will go away. There is still a strong demand for it. Cable companies must simply continue to evolve to remain competitive in a post set-top- box market where customers have more choices.

The good news, Pai indicated, is that set top boxes are not going away overnight. The new rules could take more than three years to implement, which are an eternity in the video market. This means that cable providers do not have to panic.

Here’s what you might consider:

Assess your current video delivery model, and start planning on modernizing your network. Consider weaning your customers off of fixed cable packages, and start to introduce skinny bundles to get them used to having more choices. Show your customers that you are committed to changing, and that you want to keep their business.

By developing customer-centric video delivery models now, you can take a proactive response to the FCC’s announcement.