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Death of Cable: Microsoft Sells off Comcast Shares

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Last Friday, Microsoft sold its roughly 150.9 million Class A common shares in Comcast. The value of these shares is anywhere from about $2 to $3.5 billion, and represents more than seven percent of Comcast’s total value. But what does it mean when the world’s best known software manufacturer pulls out of the cable TV race?

Microsoft may be down lately, what with that whole Yahoo! thing falling through and a bad economy and oh gawd the sky is falling. But right now, at this very moment, TV is a bad investment. To be fair, pretty much any investment is risky, but television in particular is seemingly queued up right behind radio which has its toes over the edge and a clear view of the newspaper suicide. It’s all a hot mess, so no wonder Microsoft got out.

Sure, we’ve been harping on TV a lot lately. Well, SuperSpy has other thoughts on the matter that she’ll gladly share, but from as a consumer, we’re not convinced cable is a good place to spend money anymore. Programming sucks (generally, there are nuggets of good), service is limited to one or maybe two providers per area, and the Web has a little thing called ‘streaming programming’.

Microsoft isn’t uttering much about the pull-out, so we’re prepared to be shot down by, “Comcast’s valuation for 09 isn’t hot” and “Microsoft needs the money” and other insights that although valid don’t get to the heart of the matter &#151 if you can’t sell the ads, it ain’t worth jack.

And now, more than ever, ad inventory is growing. George Parker penned a nice rant about the SuperBowl, which adage is pitching as the superbowl of advertising. But to George’s point, humankind is saturated with advertising. Like a morphine drip, at a certain point you can’t feel anything at all and then you die. Dead. Done.

On the notion that people watch the Superbowl for the ads he writes, “Pardon me, but I don’t think so, most people just want to get away from the fucking stuff. We are buried in it, and ninety percent of it is shit. And when you consider that the 60 minute playing time game, usually last for about four mind numbing hours, you’re talking about a shitload of ads. Interestingly, they still haven’t sold out the complete inventory of 30 second slots at $3 million a pop.”

Admittedly, we love watching ads. But lately, the best stuff we’ve seen has included words like Snuggie, ShamWow and the phrase, “no C.O.D.s”.

The question now becomes not how to reach people, but what we’re going to do if the American public stops watching &#151 acknowledges the need to volunteer (thanks Mr. President!) and picks up a book rather than flipping on ‘Idol’.

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