Pay-TV companies need to improve user experience, analyst says

Comcast Corp. CEO Brian Roberts speaks at the Cable Show 2013 convention in Washington, D.C.

Comcast Corp. CEO Brian Roberts speaks at the Cable Show 2013 convention in Washington, D.C.

(Susan Walsh / Associated Press)

Netflix, Hulu, Aereo and other new viewing options are making it so that pay-TV operators must improve their user experiences.

That’s a key takeaway from the cable industry’s annual conference in Washington, D.C., according to industry analyst Craig Moffett of Moffett Research.

Because of all the new ways of watching video, people are increasingly demanding easier ways to find the television programming they want to watch.


“There is an urgent need for pay-TV operators to offer a modern user interface and to accelerate new service introduction to meet competitive threats,” Moffett wrote in a research report. “But these are not easy goals to attain.”

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One solution may be making Web-based TV-guide systems more available. In a note to clients, Moffett said some companies have introduced new products to make user interfaces on TV screens “just as sexy” as those on smartphones, tablets and the Web.

This comes as more consumers bypass cable altoghter and opt for online options. These people are called cord-cutters or cord-nevers.

One of the key issues facing pay-TV companies went largely unspoken at the conference: rising programming costs.

Moffett has previously said that the cost of programming has been growing at unsustainable rates as pay-TV penetration declines.

However, the conference did not reveal any solutions to the problem, he wrote in a note to clients.

In his note, Moffett wrote, “programming costs are spiraling out of control and nobody has any good ideas for what to do about it, informed every discussion, even if the issue was politely avoided in most of the public sessions.”


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