How Breaking Bad made live TV matter

Four days later and I'm eating my words.  

 Last Sunday I wrote about how content-on-demand and native Netflix content like House of Cards is demanding businesses to think differently about their marketing strategies. But Lindsay Abrams of Salon has presented the one exception for: the Breaking Bad series finale.  

What Abrams really means is that Breaking Bad viewers wanted updates as soon as they could get them with the full experience (i.e not reading plot summaries on Wikipedia) and they were willing to sit through all the commercials to get their fix. In fact, the value proposition of being able to record and watch later (this would be the Netflix, DVR, HBO Go value prop) is completely irrelevant. 

Abrams also brings a nice contrast to the scenario - by contrast, viewers who simply want to know the highlights of who won the Emmy's don't have to slog through the three hour marathon. They just have to log on to Twitter and perform a few hashtag searches.  

Do you know someone who subscribes to a cable provider just so they can watch live sports? Of course you do - you're probably one of those cable subscribers (Go Giants) (Just kidding, I'm light on the football these days. I don't know what I'm talking about). The reason why sports watchers are willing to pay a premium, like NFL Game Access, and the reason why the cable bundle package is disproportionately weighted towards the sports line items (an average of $73 per month per subscriber) is because "in a time-delayed video world, the biggest games still drive dependable live audiences, making sports rights the most valuable resource in the whole TV ecosystem."

Here's one final way to summarize Abrams' argument: Breaking Bad made live TV better simply because the show was that compelling. If the content really is good enough, people will want to get it as soon as they can. If it's on Netflix then it's on Netflix (for example, see House of Cards). If it's on NBA League Pass, then it's on NBA League Pass. To use Kevin Spacey's words, it's all just content.