HBO plans to push more original programmingand then is currently being produced by the network going forward. That may be a great thing for the TV industry considering the kinds of hits HBO has produced over time. But couched in its conversation about original content was a not at all subtle jab at Netflix and the average American. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has called Netflix The “Walmart” of on-demand streaming video. By contrast, he called HBO the “Tiffany.”
Stephenson of course ignores that most American shop at Walmart and not Tiffany’s. But if what he wants to set up is a network that only appeals to the richest of the rich consumers he must be on the right track. Considering that Netflix has well over 100 million worldwide users and HBO is on the platform that is melting before our eyes as cord cutting grows. HBO does offer its own direct to consumer streaming option it pales in comparison to Netflix’s overall appeal.
Executives have got to start understanding where it is that people are right now. They do not want to pay more for content then is that all affordable with their own discretionary spending. More so executives had better watch out about class warfare. There are more poor people lower and middle-class and even lower-upper class people in the economic sphere of the United States than there are ultra rich. And they identify with stores like Walmart which can be found in almost every single city in country. While Tiffany is at home at overpriced malls and exclusive shopping locations. It doesn’t really paint the bright picture for AT&T’s future does it.
The comment of course wasn’t really about Walmart it was about Stephenson himself. A friend of mine always says that if you want to get a feel for a community go to the Walmart in town and just walk around and watch the people. Because its shoppers are so representative of the community as a whole. But Stephenson’s snobbery is not rare. While I was at CES this year I ran across a person promoting HDMI and 8K televisions. We had a conversation where I pointed out that the average American would probably not be jumping at their bits to purchase a new 8K television at the moment. Namely because they would be so much more expensive than up for 4K TV along with the fact that there is no 8K content on television in the first place. His response “Well I guess they are going to have to wait till it comes to Walmart then.” I can’t really express the tone that he used in print. It was totally derogatory. I told him that I shop at Walmart and that did not make me some kind of rube nor did it taint my understanding of technology.
Executives have to understand that the average American is not an idiot rolling around in the mud. The reason places like Walmart and McDonald’s exist is because they provide a value to millions of people. Not to say that there are obvious problems with some of the companies out there like Walmart as far as how they treat their employees and other issues. But the ivory tower class has to realize that they dismiss the needs of the populace of their own peril.