Sunday, April 26, 2009

LUS Fiber HYPE

It'd be funny if it weren't so overburdened with irony.

Those of us who still get a daily newspaper will have been amused by Cox's latest attempt to "me-too" ("fiber is nothing new" cough, cough) the LUS network's offerings. As my wife was going through our morning ritual of removing the 3/4 of the paper that is glossy ad inserts and sections we never open out slipped an 8 1/2 x 11 Cox flyer with the screaming bold headline "LUS Fiber HYPE." The irony, of course, is that the hype and FUD is entirely being performed by Cox. Have you seen any LUS advertising "hyping" —or even promoting— LUS Fiber in the major media yet? I haven't. And I watch. Now no doubt the day will come when LUS will hype its network. When it is offering the service to a large enough base that it makes sense to advertise in the paper or other local media. But that day has yet to arrive. My guess is that this flier is the best evidence available that LUS' "controlled roll-out" is beginning to significantly cut into Cox's base of subscriptions; painfully enough to buy an insert which will be distributed almost solely to people who can't—Yet—buy LUS services. Now the motivation may be to just try and insert the headline into the "LUS fiber HYPE" into the community unconscious. If so that shows a pretty profound misunderstanding of this community. Cox has played the game of playing fast and loose with truth with Lafayette before and it's proved embarasssing. Who can forget the disastrous story of the "local blogger T. J. Crawdad" or the infamous "push polls? Even more than embarrassing...folks got to saying tha "you can't trust anything they say." This flier is in that (ig)noble tradition.

The thing Cox forgets is that to be truly effective attack advertising has to be true. And it has to be about something that people care about. Otherwise you just end up looking desperate. Cox is hyping its "digital TV," claiming to have more digital channels than LUS...and is using that hype to sell what's on the backside of the flyer: it's lowest triple play tier. For 89.99. For 12 Months.

"It's a day late and a dollar short" as the old saying goes. You're supposed to assume that the claim on the front supports the offering on the back. That you'll get more with Cox's cheapest "digital TV" offering.

But you won't.

Take a gander at the slideshow below; it's from Terry Huvals presentation at the recent (and fantastic) F2C conference. The relevant slides are numbers 31, 32, and 33 which detail the "expanded basic," "digital basic," and "digital basic plus" tiers for both companies.

What Cox wants you to buy, on the basis of their claims on the front of the sheet, is the product on the back of the sheet, that 89.99 (for 12 months) sale offering. If you go to Cox's "Greater Louisiana" website & drill down you'll get to a page that shows you get their "expanded basic" cable tier with that deal. So surf on over to slide 31 on the display below....



You'll see that in truth LUS offers more channels in their lowest tier combo deal than Cox. If that strikes you as strange soldier on to slide 32. There you'll notice that LUS offers more channels in the middle tier too..only at slide 33 the highest tier do you find Cox offering more channels that LUS. So the (hyped) claims on the front, while not entirely untrue at every level, do not support the product they are selling on the back. A little bait and switch, that.

And LUS' low tier combo deal is cheaper too: Cox's "Good" comes in at 89.99 (intro price) vs LUS' "VIP - $84.85" (allathetime price).

(And, while we're at it you also get 30 megs up and down with LUS but only 10 megs down and 786 k up... with video shifting to the web and more and more people doing their telephony through 3rd party VOIP that's going to be more and more significant. I already do a healthy amount of my TV viewing over my shiny new computer-TV hookup.)

6 comments:

Speed said...

I think right now the only advantage Cox has is HD channels. Other than that...
And I do love the irony here. The only HYPE that I've really heard is the fact that this will be an all-fiber network, which is something COX has started to try to HYPE (misleadingly) about its own network. So maybe we should print an ad stating that we shouldn't believe Cox's fiber HYPE either?

John said...

Speed; :-)

I do think the HD channels advantage is some that some folks will care about. —I don't have any shows that I record that are only available thru Cox...so it doesn't matter to me. It's mostly long-tail stuff, not popular channels. But its real if there's a channel you're passionate about.

The VOD and free video I just have never found worth the hassle. And I wanted to like them. If that gets to be something that people actually use there's a differential there that might make a difference to some. Again, long tail but long tail is worth talking about because in the aggregate it does add up to a fair number of people.

Hope somebody is doing the research. This is a pretty unusual battle shaping up here. Marketing geeks will be saivating.

Speed said...

Unfortunately for hockey fans, the choice is Cox for cable since LUS doesn't have Versus in HD and doesn't even carry the NHL Network. I wonder if I should be calling them and requesting these channels so they will work on getting them?

And for VOD, are you confirming that LUS doesn't have a good selection of VOD programming? We use Cox OnDemand every once and a while, and my wife uses it the most when she's on vacation. She also uses Netflix Instant Watch so she has quite a bit to keep her company there as well.

John said...

Re must-have Hocky in South Louisiana: you are a perfect example of a long-tail customer. :-) And yes, I'd at least ask. LUS has the capacity. The issue for them will be purely cost-benefit. If you can demonstrate that there are a lot of you....

I think the VOD is good...like the HD it is more than I want to use anyway. I just never used VOD much. The LUS per-pay movies look pretty good to me but are organized very differently than Cox's. There is a longer list than I wanted to look at... Sorry that I can't be more specific off the top of my head.

What I am using more and more is netflix streams and stuff from the likes of Hulu. On that score you couldn't ask for a better connection. Low latency, enormously fast connections mean the streams are absolutely clean. Netflix in particular really benefits. I use Netflix in whatever place I would once have tried for Cox's VOD.

(PS: if your wife is sitting at home over vacation and doing nothing but watching OnDemand you need to be scheduling somethng better. ;-) )

Anonymous said...

I'm still waiting for some honest information concerning plans for getting the Cox Sports channel in HD.

They have all the LSU sports, including football. It's a deal breaker for me if they don't have something firm when signup time arrives.

Speed said...

Cox is still adding more HD channels to their lineup, with Disney and ABC Family being the latest additions, along with BIO, MLB and a few others last week. If LUS is banking a lot on its cable program to make money, I would hope they invest in adding more HD.