When you’re trying to find something to watch on a cable TV, the act of scrolling through the guide can be exhausting.
That’s why many people just don’t deal with it. They go to a channel they know will be showing something at-least-mediocre that they can jump into, like the Travel Channel.
Analysts at Barclays call these “inertia channels,” and say that as the future of TV progresses, they could “lose out quite materially.”
In plain English: these channels should be scared.
Why is that? Because they don’t really have a place in the world of Netflix.
In a note on Thursday, the analysts wrote that as on-demand streaming takes over, two types of shows will dominate the industry.
The first are big live events, like sports, award shows, musicals, news, and so on. The second are shows that target specific audiences, which includes all scripted shows.
The analysts envision a hybrid TV-streaming future where you switch between big live spectacles and Netflix-style on-demand content. But “inertia” shows and channels don’t fit into either of those broad categories. There’s nothing immediate about them, and if you were browsing Netflix, you wouldn’t choose to watch them.
One way you can tell is because people don’t view them time-shifted (on DVR or on-demand), the analysts say.
Once the process of figuring out what to watch moves from completely terrible (like it is on most cable systems today) to mildly tolerable, you wouldn’t have any appetite to watch most things on channels like HGTV (which the analysts call out by name).
The analysts think that these shows are privileged because of how annoying browsing is on cable. Once that advantage goes away, there’s not really a place for a channel that derives value from having mediocre, easy-to-consume content playing 24 hours a day.