Patching The Cord

I don’t live in a cord cutter’s world anymore.  I used to for years, but life-changing events (moving in with a girlfriend who needs to keep up with a certain Kardashian family), and some incredible service bundling deals from my local communications services provider overlord have recently patched that cord (and even provided me with something called a “landline”).

Like a lot of things technology related, I was an early, uhh… adopter (?) of cord cutting, starting in 2008.  Back then, I didn’t find myself watching much television, and the internet was providing innovative ways for me to get the video fixes I wanted when I wanted (most of the time).  Some of these ways were perhaps not the most ethical, while others were perfectly on side.  Mostly, I just didn’t consume much television anymore.  I read a lot, listened to a ton of music, and went to a few movies here and there.  All was good in the world.  I was saving significant money by not paying for television service I didn’t need or want, and I certainly didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything.  Except one thing.

When I was growing up, I watched a lot of sports.  As any good Canadian boy should, hockey was my primary obsession.  Baseball, football (even the Canadian variety), basketball, cycling, Olympiads - even curling was on my television diet.  If it involved some sort of sporting competition, I’d watch it.  

My hometown sports teams weren’t particularly successful during the mid-2000’s which led to me caring about them less and less.  Upon reflection, if this hadn’t been the case, I may not have cut the cord in the first place, but they were horrible.  I was interested in saving some cash, and not interested in wasting time watching them lose.  Because live sports was one of the things that was next to impossible to find online (for a reasonable cost), I simply stopped watching, and by proxy, following.

Fast forward to today, and things are a little different in my hometown.  The Toronto Raptors are NBA champions, and the city (and country) have been pretty excited.  Even friends and family who have never watched professional basketball before hopped on the bandwagon.  Because I was freshly television re-enabled, and as a result of a big off-season trade last year, I decided to follow the Raptors closely this season, both via the television, and on the internet.  A ton of content is available for free online, which begs the question, who is paying for it?  You can easily watch video game recaps, in-depth analysis, and opinions via YouTube and similar services.  While what I’m doing to access the content is above board and legitimate, a lot of that content is not posted by those who produced or own it, rather, it’s  illegally posted by “entrepreneurs” looking to make a few bucks off the ad revenue YouTube serves its users.  And that’s part of the problem.

But what about live games?  Well, you can subscribe to something like NBA League Pass for hundreds of dollars a season, but local broadcaster blackout rules often block games.  You can also subscribe to some over-the-top sports services which may have rights to some (but not all) of the games you want to watch, but those are pretty expensive - in the order of $25 to $50 a month, each.  The NBA in particular has been experimenting with per-game purchases or novel “fourth quarter action only” purchase options, but they still involve a sign-up process, custom apps, and are riddled with exclusions and blackout rules.

All of this is manufactured to guide you towards buying a subscription, and their primary method of doing so is friction and frustration.  For a large segment of the population, this works.  For the casual fan or bandwagoneer, it’s just too much bother.  What they want is a quick, simple, and fairly priced option with no subscriptions, strings or restrictions attached.

How much ancillary revenue are leagues like the NBA missing out on by insisting on providing a high-friction, high-price, user experience to prospective customers versus providing an easy to use and cheaper alternative?  An exact number is tough to quantify, but anecdotally, it stands to reason that it’s a lot - especially when factoring in meeting a feverish demand for live coverage of an event driven by new or casual viewers.  

Using this year’s NBA Finals as an example, Canada is a hockey-first country, fiercely nationalistic, and loves to rally and support its sport teams.  As an often overlooked and discounted perennial underdog to it’s big brother to the south, the entire country was swept up in some form of Raptors Fever.  There was intense interest in the team during the playoffs, culminating in 44% of the entire country watching game 6 of the league finals.  How much bigger could that number have been if there was a simple one-click method to pay and watch the game?  How many people just didn’t bother, or tried finding an illegal feed, and gave up?  

A casual fan or just simply a curious gawker isn’t interested in paying a lot of money to buy a recurring subscription, just to watch something they’re probably not all that interested in or invested in long term.  Capturing and maintaining an extended interest in basketball in a hockey-loving nation like Canada is not an easy task, but why make it harder than it needs to be?  Serious sports fans buy subscriptions and support the teams they love with their wallets, and their hearts.  Someone hopping on the wagon for a quick ride may be willing to pay once, or twice, but that’s it.  Why not seize that opportunity and capture that revenue?

That’s what QUID offers.  

A simple and easy way to charge smaller amounts for things online, and a quick and frictionless way for people to buy those things.  In order to turn casual fans into lifelong supporters, you have to get them interested and invested, and the best way to do that is to expose them to how great your product is.  Putting up expensive financial and artificial technological barriers isn’t a great way to carry momentum or build interest.  QUID offers a great way to easily engage audiences in a frictionless and affordable way, that benefits both the consumer, and the producer.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by him, no matter how on point or awesome, are solely his own and do not express the views or opinions of his employer.

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About Derrick Mealiffe

Derrick is an approachable nerd and avid cyclist who knows far too much about things most people don't (and shouldn't) care about.