DIVERGENT STRATEGIES

AT&T and Verizon Pursue Different Paths Into the Future (WSJ) https://www.wsj.com/articles/at-t-and-verizon-pursue-different-paths-into-the-future-1541999131

One is focusing on acquiring content, while the other seeks to acquire new customer groups. Reminiscent of Coke vs Pepsi, where Coke focuses on being a leader in beverages, while Pepsi aims to diversify in food and beverage.

ATT aims to attract individual consumers, which are content driven and value entertainment. By owning content providers, ATT will not only expand revenue streams, but can create exclusive customer experiences for ATT wireless consumers.

On the other hand, Verizon strives to invest in technology and expanding its industry consumer base, which is more stable than personal consumers. Industry consumers prefer service contracts, which provide cost stability and detailed service guarantees. This could provide Verizon stable revenue streams over longer periods.

ATT will have to manage divergent business unit and balance varying goals and industry norms. Conversely, Verizon will be able to focus on its core competency and strengthen consumer quality in multiple segments.

Both have viable paths forward. Interesting to see how smaller competitors adjust.

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RED SOX WIN

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After not winning a title for 86 years, the Boston Red Sox captured its 4th World Series championship since 2004. The 2018 Red Sox team was a force to be reckon with since game 1 of 162. A team with a dangerous lineup, ferocious pitching staff, and reliable defense that won more games than any Boston team in the past.

The Dodgers played an interesting World Series. Understandably, Dave Roberts would put together a lineup that counters the strong pool of lefthanded pitchers the Red Sox have, but at some point you have to let the players that got you to the World Series play through the challenge. Some of the strongest bats remained on the bench until a righthanded pitcher came in. Although, David Freese did come up with some clutch hits and provided the only offense of game 5 for the Dodgers.

The Red Sox were the better team coming into and out of the series. Now, the Red Sox focus on repeating and the Dodgers must find a way to capture that elusive prize. Two pennants and twice the runner up. If Kershaw departs, their challenge is much greater.

SUMMARY

RED SOX 4 DODGERS 1

MVP: STEVE PEARCE (3HR 8 RBI)

NEAR THE END?

Sears Prepares for Bankruptcy Filing as Debt Payment Looms – The Wall Street Journal. https://www.wsj.com/articles/sears-hires-advisers-to-prepare-bankruptcy-filing-1539136189

The iconic once retail giant may be nearing its final stretch. Or maybe it can dwarf into a profitable condense form of itself. If the latter, it will need to find a way to develop and connect with a new target market not already retired.

At one point Sears dominated the retail landscape, largely because it was the first general retailer to market offerings for the entire family and the one willing to stand by its products. As the market change with new players, Sears never effectively captured a new market group.

If Sears does survive, it needs to have a narrower focus. One approach could be deconstruction of their retail concept by creating two distinct chains. One could be a clothing targeting people that may not be served by more trendy stores or a channel for professionals looking for everyday affordable clothes. Another would be an autonomous Sears Auto not tied to a store.

At this point, the Sears leadership team is probably focused on seeing how many tomorrows it has left. If there some, they need to consider what those days will look like.

CORD CUTTING AND EXCESSIVE FEES 

ESPN LAYOFFS (NYT)

As many already know, ESPN laid off 100 employees, many of which were high-profile personalities. After years of skyrocketing rights fees and people cutting ties with cable companies, ESPN has a cash flow problem. Noble of them to protect employees living paycheck to paycheck, but the impact on broadcast quality could hurt ratings.

Suggestions?

ESPN needs to strongly consider alternate revenues streams and reduce its dependence on a declining cable market. In other words, provide direct access to customers outside traditional cable deals. As more customers continue to move away from expensive cable contracts, ESPN can still remain connected with them through a direct service similar to HBO. Currently, WatchESPN requires a cable subscription login.

What About The Fees?

The cost of broadcast rights fees is the cost of doing business at this point. Until the deals expire, ESPN has to honor the terms. Going forward it should take a stronger negotiating position, but now should focus on maximizing revenue to offset the cost. As a sports centric organization, ESPN cannot lose its connections to the content its built around.

Beyond the business aspect, ESPN  needs to focus on its core content, setting aside the political commentary and puns. Stop incorporating political attacks and stop promoting stereotypes. Focus on being a true worldwide leader in SPORTS. Companies that forget why they are in business tend to go out of business.

German prosecutors raid headquarters of Volkswagen and Audi

VOLKSWAGEN SCANDAL

The global automaker cannot seem to navigate past its defeat device scandal. After settling with US regulators, it now must deal with its domestic government that just raided its headquarters.

Many of the environmental regulations may be too stringent. But, the solution was not to cheat the system. Aside from the fines, Volkswagen is spending much more funds in buying back impacted vehicles. Not even considering the brand impact.

In spite of the illegality, the defeat device is clever. Such cleverness should be used to improve the customer experience, rather than erode trust from its customers. While leaders probably costed in the risks of such a program, the non-monetary costs probably outweigh the benefits gained.

Is Sears Dying a Slow Death? | Fox Business

Sears Slow Death

The inevitable might be coming soon, which is unfortunate. Eddie Lambert might be a master of finance, but probably should have brought in people with retail experience and expertise. The iconic retailer is beyond life support.

A big issue with Sears is the in-store experience has not improved. Go into any location and there is a clear disconnect. For instance, Sears welcomes shoppers with greeter pushing home repair, vacations, and other services without any context to the intended purchase. Why would any one purchase any service from a company that may not survive the warranty period?

While the outlook is grim, Sears needs to focus its remaining resources on the customer experience. More efficient checkout lanes. Cleaner stores. Professional and pleasant store associates. Expanding the Shop Your Way points. Also, listen to customers and actually implement change.

Retail is not a desirable market space and its once iconic leader is far from its heyday. There might be time for a turnaround. Maybe not. But, Sears should give itself a chance, rather than simply aiming to starve off its pending death.