I recently cancelled cable and got Roku. Giving up live programming was not a decision that came easily. My husband is a sports fan and I am a reality tv (don’t judge) and HBO addict. However, the value equation no longer worked for us. The cost of cable is too high, the service lackluster, and when we actually did watch live TV the volume of commercials was irritating.

One of the services I now subscribe to is Hulu Plus. Hulu Plus costs money and serves up network programs with commercials that are impossible to skip. And guess what? I don’t have a problem with the cost or the advertisements. The price is reasonable, the ads are short and sweet, and Hulu Plus displays clearly how many seconds you have until your program returns. The commercials on Hulu are infinitely more watchable because of their brevity. And, countdown clocks seem to make people happy.

The non-irritating ads offer a lesson about paying attention to your customers. In an effort to increase profit, networks sold so much advertising that they made standard TV unwatchable. They focused on their gain while disregarding the needs of both their viewers (entertainment) and their advertisers (captivated viewers). When no alternative existed that equation worked. However, as options for viewing (and advertising) emerged the networks didn’t respond. The old guard lost customer focus. Luckily the new guard was paying attention.

Hulu Plus (ironically a joint venture owned by NBC, Fox & Disney) and its easy-to-watch commercials serve as a reminder that people are willing to pay (with dollars and eyeballs) for a service they deem valuable. But the price needs to be rational. Once it’s out of balance be prepared for reinvention.