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Bullying The Bullies

Sling TV launched its first round of TV commercials this week and we know some MVPDS who are not going to be happy.

Like, all of them.

Despite the Sling team’s initial promise that they were going after cord nevers (people who’ve never gotten a pay-TV subscription, usually younger Millennials), the ads, which mock the less-than-stellar customer experience offered by the nation’s MVPDs, seem squarely aimed at convincing people to cut their ties to those poor-service-providing providers.

In other words, cord cutting.

Now Sling’s CMO has been quoted as saying that the reason cord nevers remain cord nevers is that they are well aware of how awful the MVPDs are (does that include Dish, Sling’s parent company?) And if those spots happen to convince some current pay-TV subscribers to flee the nest, well, that’s just collateral damage.

Take a look at the spots below and then listen to why we think that campaign might just turn out to be one of the best things that ever happened to the industry.

Back? Okay, allow us to explain: The pay-TV industry actually provides a pretty good product. Hundreds of channels, lots of free VOD, high-speed internet, low-cost DVRs, and some fledgling TVE apps. The problem, as the ads so cleverly point out, is their horrendous customer experience which extends from sadist-designed set top box interfaces to vicious customer service reps to labyrinthine pricing plans. Or to put it another way, there’s a reason so many of them wind up on the annual list of America’s Most Hated Companies.

Until now, those lists were the only (non-anecdotal) way TPTB at the MVPDs could find out what their customers really thought about them. But now there are commercials calling them out, comparing them to a pack of schoolyard bullies, and we’re thinking those commercials are really going to resonate with consumers.

If we’re lucky, that should shake up the MVPDs more than a little. You see they never had to worry about customer experience because their customers didn’t really have many other options. (Or, in many cases, ANY other options.) Nothing like a little competition to get the incumbents off their asses. Especially with Apple TV (allegedly) coming.

What we’re hoping is that some brave consultants take them aside and point out that if they’re going to charge premium prices for their offering, they’ve got to start offering premium service. Or at least service that doesn’t feel like a discount chain store in suburban New Jersey, circa 1986. You know, the one where all the shoes were out of their boxes and piled up in little mounds on the floor, and there were dozens of open registers but no cashiers. Yeah. That one.

And if they actually listen to those brave consultants and get their acts in gear—it’s not that expensive, at least not compared to the alternatives—they will end up with a service a lot of people won’t want to part with because it’s so good. Or if not good, then at least not-awful.

Stranger things have happened. MVPD execs are people too and we’re hoping they’ll grow tired of being teased by their friends at the country club, especially if the bully ads take off. Not an image you really want to be tied down to.

Round One goes to Sling. Let’s see where Round Two ends up.