Four Failed TV Services Ruin Business –

In my household, we love to watch TV. I am sure our brains are about ready to decompose and slink out of our ears at any moment. We subscribe to a ridiculous amount of video services, and while one would think that would satisfy our needs, it really doesn’t. There’s a major missed opportunity here that networks really need to take advantage of.

Here’s a look at our TV situation. We like to watch TV on our regular flatscreen, on our projector hooked up to an XBOX360, an iPod, Kindle Fire, and a Windows HTC phone. These are the services we currently subscribe to:

-Amazon Instant Video. It’s free with my Prime membership, and the videos are there for the taking. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work on my TV, phone, or virtually anything other than my computer, and the selection is poor.
-Netflix. We hardly ever use it, but it comes in handy during moments when we’re on the go and our toddler son needs a cartoon fix to avoid a meltdown. We also enjoy the occasional movie at home. I mostly avoid it, though, because of the inability to organize my queue. It’s just overwhelming, and we often spend a long time browsing before we actually get to watch something.
-Hulu Plus. I love Hulu for its highly organized queue. I can add favorites, view by shows, and make my own playlists. It’s always easy to find something to watch, and at the same time, it’s available on nearly all of the devices that I want to use for video. But it’s not available on my phone for mobile toddler meltdowns, and the movie selection is rarely appealing, so we haven’t let go of Netflix.

Not one of these services fully meets our needs.

We catapulted our TV into the ridiculous and signed up for DirecTV this week. After an out of town visit to a household with cable, we can no longer resist the urge to enjoy high quality programming that’s running 24/7 at the push of a button. But at the same time, getting DirecTV added yet another video service to our growing list: the DirecTV Everywhere service that comes free with our subscription. It offers a lot of the same shows and movies that we might watch on Amazon Instant, Netflix, or Hulu. So one would think that we could just cancel everything but DirecTV, right? Wrong. It’s not usable on anything in our household but a computer.

We still feel like we need all four, yes four, of these services. It’s a little embarrassing to admit that we “need” so many different TV services, but the fact is that not one of them has fully met our needs. Netflix is widely available, but clunky. Hulu and Amazon don’t have everything we want. And DirecTV Everywhere? Isn’t available on the devices we’d like to use, and I suspect we may be disappointed by the free programming.

With all of the different services we have, it’s clear that we would pay good money to be able to watch high quality programming on our TV, and on all of our devices, but I have yet to find a service that offers both a wide variety of TV and movies that are available in virtually any format that we want to see them in. Thus, we have massive waste in the amount of services that we use for highly specialized uses. It’s clear that we have some paring down to do, because obviously, this is just too much, but it would be better if we could find one provider that would meet all of our needs.

This is a business failure (although the variety of services that we maintain are obviously enjoying it). Our TV experience is rich, but ultimately, fails to satisfy the needs of our household completely. Although the TV industry has long been disappointing customers in other ways (like offering 300 channels, but not the ones you want), they’re not unique in this failure. How many other businesses exist that offer a good service, but fail to be completely satisfactory? How often have you done a great job, but dropped the ball on a small, but important detail? We can learn from TV’s shortcomings, recognizing the importance of customers’ specific needs, and the value of being the business that is able to meet not just some, but all of them. And we’re really going to cut back on our TV.