This year is shaping up to be one of the worst customer retention years in the history of pay TV. Cable, satellite and phone companies that offer video services lost 113,000 customers in the third quarter, according to a report by MoffettNathanson.
So what are cable and satellite companies' frenemies—the broadcast partners and content kings—doing to ensure that the television status quo continues into the next generation of viewers? They're cutting the cord themselves, to a degree. Networks with a strong mobile presence are using the basics of cord-cutting against the next generation's would-be cord cutters, roping children into the existing ecosystem in a roundabout way.
Disney, for example, is trying to embrace the second screen and win children over at an earlier age. It introduced a new animated series, "Sheriff Callie's Wild West," Nov. 24 as part of its Disney Junior brand, but instead of launching on the TV network, the first nine episodes are available through the Watch Disney Junior app and a related website. The show won't make it to traditional broadcast until next year.
Here's the hook: As with Time Warner's HBO GO or Disney's WatchESPN, kids who want to view "Sheriff Callie's Wild West" will first have to verify a subscriptions to a cable or satellite provider.
Viacom's Nickelodeon, which recently won an interactive media Emmy Award for its app and will release one for Nick Jr. in the spring, uses a similar method, requiring users to authenticate subscriptions to get the most from its mobile offerings.
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