The Decline of Cable Television

The market for cable television is dying. The decline started when companies such as Netflix and Hulu began their rise to power in the twenty-first century.

Today, entertainment is on-demand and cheaper than ever. No longer do you have to manually record your favorite TV shows with a clunky remote and wait at specific time in the week for them to air. Now, they’re ready to stream or download to a mobile device to watch on the go. A decade ago this seemed impossible. Yet, it happened. Where there is profit there is progress. Unfortunately for cable television, there hasn’t been much progress.

Companies such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and YouTube are making platform exclusive on-demand content for paying users additional to external benefits. For example, recently YouTube released a new marketing campaign promoting YouTube Red which provides consistent exclusive content for paying viewers from their favorite content creators. Amazon even joined in and now has their own selection of on-demand movies and TV shows if you pay for their Prime service. The old is being outpaced by the new. The couch no longer has a purpose when you can watch any show at any time on your mobile device.

However, this is not a surprise. The decline of network television isn’t new.

Source: Business Insider
Consider this chart from the investment banking firm Pacific Crest Securities, showing the decline in total subscribers to pay TV companies over the last three years compared with the massive growth of Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu.

Most critics agree with the hard fact that there is a decline in cable television subscriptions. However, one point is consistently brought up time and time again. What about local news, traffic, and weather? Not everyone watches TV just for entertainment.

My response to this question is very simple — Google. Google, the all-mighty global monopoly, provides all these services free. When I wake up, my Google Pixel (Googles trademark smartphone) is already telling me the traffic down to the minute, the fastest route to school, and what the weather will be for the day. Likewise, social media provides a similar role, but for news. Twitter is a surprisingly accurate and reliable source of daily information that consistently challenges news channels and networks. The company has a division that focuses on updating users with global news per hour along with other articles for entertainment. Cable television is being replaced faster than it can reform. For example, during the 2016 presidential election YouTube live streamed each debate online with over 124 million views. Even if you miss the live stream, the video is saved in their database and can be watched on demand for free at any time. Though the future is bright, it may not be a future of cable television.