The Slow Death of Cable Television

This Facebook post from Mashable should terrify everyone who works for a cable company.

A sample of the comments:

I love television and watch an obsessive amount…but I ditched cable for the Internet 3 years ago.

We already did. We haven’t had cable in years. We watch everything on Hulu and Netflix. I did recently purchase Hulu+

Thank you all for your comments! I’m going to cancel my cable tv service.

Yep- already have! We use Netflix & Hulu & LOVE it- love the savings, love the variety of off the wall shows we have found.

Once the sports issue is figured out, I’m pulling the plug.

You can read them for yourselves, I’m not just cherry picking. The vast majority of the commenters have no need for cable except sports enthusiasts.

My own Journey with Cable

Growing up I always wanted cable, but my parents never caved to my begging. I wanted the liberties of watching ESPN, Comedy Central, and MTV like most of my other classmates. Instead of watching Beavis and Butthead, I enjoyed reruns of Seinfeld all through High School.

Then came my first experience living with cable - college. College is the ultimate time for cable tv. Since you’re usually sharing a house or apartment with several people (in my case 7 others) you can get all the premium channels while splitting it 7 ways. This can make an internet connection + cable tv with premium channels run for only $30 or so a person. Quite a deal.

Then came graduation. Some roommates get married, some moved away, and I moved in with a friend. When it came down to it, as a broke college grad trying to intern my way into a job, I couldn’t stomach paying $50/month for cable on top of the internet bill. We went without TV for the first six months while mooching internet off the neighbors. Anything I wanted to watch happened on Hulu, but generally I was too busy for TV since I was working two jobs.

Then we got Netflix (and internet). We hooked the new TV up to the router and were able to enjoy the streaming content in between days our one disc was in the mail. While the streaming content wasn’t terrific at the time (far better now) I was never at a shortage to things I wanted to watch.

Two years later after I started a full time position, I decided to treat myself with premium TV - I bought a Roku. It has more than I could ever enjoy for a fraction of the price of cable.

The Dwindling Need for Cable

With the increasing amount of things pulling at our attention, the appeal of cable just isn’t there anymore. Before social networks and the internet really came around as a time distraction/investment cable was supreme. It was about the only way to consume digital media besides trekking down to Blockbuster.

Cable TV is now more of an inconvenience. It costs significantly more than the alternatives (Netflix+Hulu Plus) and offers much less flexibility in watching past episodes. It’s hard to track down your favorite shows, especially ones that aren’t on TV anymore.

Clinging to sports isn’t a sustainable strategy. MLB has adapted (though not 100%. They still don’t understand YouTube and in market games are blacked out on MLB.TV).

Cable had it’s time in the spotlight. So did the music industry. So did book publishers. Unless they can radically adapt (even then it might be too late) few tears will be shed as cable dies.

Now the question is this: Can cable tv recover? Or do you even want it to?

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  1. bennesvig posted this