I think Shani’s probably right that cable companies are in serious-long term trouble due to a failure to adapt to multiple new platforms. That said, I think the solution is actually pretty simple. If I were a cable exec, I’d do a couple of things. First, I’d develop a really terrific, flexible, strong player that will give viewers confidence that they can get the same credible user experience online or on their mobile devices that they get on a television screen.
Second, I’d move to a la carte subscriptions. I couldn’t care less about most of the stations I have access to, but I’d definitely pay another $10 a month for BBC America. I’d probably pay $5 a month for access to all the installments of Real Housewives whenever I wanted to see them. I’d pay $10 a month for USA. And I’d definitely pay for Community and 30 Rock even if I didn’t get access to any other NBC programming. I bet plans like that would lure viewers who have dropped their cable back. Across the board, cable profits might go down some, and I bet iTunes profits would go down a lot. But if I could pay networks directly and immediately for what I want from them, that might not be such a terrible tradeoff for those networks. And anything that gets me more Kandi Burruss and Bethanny Frankel is a good thing.