One of the last benefits of paying for traditional cable is the channel guide. For those of us who still occasionally enjoy the art of channel surfing, streaming services like Netflix and Amazon with their made-up genres and algorithm-driven recommendations haven’t quite been able to replicate the joy of content discovery on an old-fashioned cable TV service.
So it was especially jarring last week when I began to notice advertisements for the new TV series L.A.’s Finest inserted into my channel guide on Spectrum Cable. The ads appear in between the channel listings, and reappear pretty frequently as you’re scrolling through, completely interrupting the user experience and betraying the sanctity of the surf.
After a quick search on social media, I realized I wasn’t alone in finding these new ads intrusive.
— Ty C. Denton (@SSaxman) May 11, 2019
L.A.’s Finest is the inaugural series on Spectrum Originals, which is Spectrum’s new effort to offer exclusive content to its cable customers. That it would seek new ways to keep its paying video subscribers is not surprising. Cord cutting has accelerated throughout the pay-TV ecosphere, and Charter–Spectrum’s parent company–is feeling the pinch as much as anyone else. The company lost 145,000 TV subscribers in the last quarter alone, far above what it lost in the same period last year.
But surely there must be a better way to promote original content, one that doesn’t involve disrupting the very user experience people enjoy and pay for. Cable is not cheap, and surveys indicate that more and more people are considering scaling back service or cutting the cord altogether. Customers are already at the end of their ropes, so why give them another excuse?
I reached out to Spectrum for comment and will update if I hear back. The company’s Twitter account has been responding apologetically to complaints, but so far it hasn’t said if it plans to rethink the strategy.