CNN+ New Evidence of TV Business Change

We found out today that the big money CNN+ streaming service is doomed to last about as long as Mr. and Mrs. Dennis and Carmen Electra Rodman.

We also found out this week that onetime streaming king Netflix has chilled – losing subscriptions and stock price.

So streaming is dying? No. Not at all. Maybe more like growing pains.

I was at a relative’s house two weeks ago on Masters Sunday and couldn’t flip on coverage because they only had a few streaming services and no access to traditional TV.

And a local station around here, Graham Media-owned NBC affiliate WDIV-TV, (full disclosure: one of my former employers) has started streaming-only newscasts, available via a free app.

What is going on with the TV business now? That’s a tough question to answer because the business is no longer monolithic and it’s being affected by multiple changes and challenges happening at the same time. And if you’re still watching TV, in any form, you are in charge.

Why isn’t CNN+, at least in this iteration, going to make it? Had you even thought about buying it? I’m a news junkie and I never even considered it for a second. It was a solution in search of a market challenge. Plus, CNN’s new owner, Discovery, was reportedly cold to the idea all the way. They have a much bigger challenge ahead, namely figuring out CNN’s brand, purpose and position in the marketplace in the middle of Fox News on the right and MSNBC on the left.

Why is Netflix struggling, relatively speaking? It seems the answer is more competition. The market is far from cornered these days, with hit, binge-worthy shows showing up on upstart services. Consumers are forced to make decisions because the nickel and diming of streaming is starting to add up in this age of inflation.

What about the household that doesn’t have TV, as we once knew it? It’s a family comprised of Millennial parents and a young child. For them, it’s socially unacceptable to have (gasp!) cable. YouTube TV doesn’t carry the regional sports network for their favorite teams. So they go without local channels, picking and choosing their streaming options, often adjusting throughout the year. If they miss a big event here or there, so be it. That’s life in the suburbs for many in their late 30s.

The Detroit TV station knows this. They understand that younger audiences, if they will ever watch news, aren’t going to do it via traditional TV. So they’re trying something new to try to attract them and if it can get local advertisers to spend just a little more, it will be worth it from a business perspective.

All of these trends, and many more, are happening at the same time, in every form of TV. For those of up who grew up in the “Big Three” networks era of dominance, and local news being a common denominator in every community, this sure is different. And one thing is certain – it won’t take long, maybe as soon as 2022 election advertising money dries up, for it to be different again.