Cable television execs aren't in the experience business - but they should be

Advertising Age has an article which surveys some Cable TV execs on their perspective on going in the direction of Hulu: a site which has done fantastically well selling ads along with high-quality online video. The article's title asks, Will Cable Networks Get Their Own Video Site Like Hulu?.

The speculation is that they are not interested, for fear of cannibalizing their exisitng revenue streams. Scary. The article quotes David Zaslav, CEO of Discovery Communications:

We don't want to train [viewers] to watch our best shows on [free online] platforms. Most of our research shows if we move our content mostly in clips, we can create an environment where we can mostly satisfy our viewers with consumer content on other platforms but do it in a way that doesn't take away from our core business.

Train them? Why is the broadcast business about keeping viewers in a cage that protects the content producer? While you build the cage, you force your most motivated fans to seek it elsewhere. Hulu's greatest long-term asset will be eliminating the need for those fans to do that.

The reality is that the model of watching TV that provides that "core business" for the MSOs is just broken. Buying CDs clealry broke in the late 90s, and the death spiral of the record industry is proof of that. Hulu approaches things from the user perspective, with the goal of creating an experience that people want. The MSOs create an experience that makes them money, and they know that whatever maze they put between the user and their content, some people will navigate it.

It's just antitheical to the MSO or the cable networks, really, to approach the deployment of services as something to undertake from the user's perspective.