Will Cable TV’s Heart Ever Beat Again?

Cable TV is dead. Subscribers to cable television has fallen consistently ever since the first full year decline in 2013. In the same period, Netflix has nearly doubled it’s number of subscribers. People watch less on their TV and more on their mobile devices.

What could change this? Is Cable TV worth trying to save?

“Survey Confirms Everyone Still Hates Cable Companies” — actual headline

In the lighting fast age of digital evolution, your television is probably the oldest piece of technology you own. It’s well known in the industry that consumers usually replace their TV roughly every 5 years. This creates a problem, older TV’s aren’t providing their viewers with enough features to keep them interested. What do you mean??? The latest Samsung TV has a 4K Curved OLED HDR Quantum Dot Display! It looks amazing!

Here’s why:

Your television provider doesn’t put out anything in 4K, or HDR, or use any of the fancy features your new TV includes. Channels haven’t started broadcasting in 4K and Comcast doesn’t seem to have a problem with it. Comcast’s technology can’t support 4K and can barely support true HD.

“Viewers want more HD channels at a time when many cable and satellite providers are at the limits of their capacity,” — Jim Willcox, a technology editor for Consumer Reports

Comcast, or really any IPs, feel need to upgrade their equipment to fill the needs of their customers. Their customers have proven that they are just fine paying for their compressed video streams. While customers seek the highest quality picture while purchasing their TVs, they don’t have the opportunity to shop television providers.

Netflix has been able to provide customers with cutting edge features such as original shows streamed in 4K resolution and is now supporting HDR TVs. Netflix has created a complete contrast to Comcast’s lackluster innovation in the living room.

“Comcast has said very little officially on its plan(to add 4K Support),” — HD Guru
“Netflix will add HDR support for a dozen shows and movies in 2016” — The Verge

Cable television hasn’t innovated in years, just recently Comcast finally updated their set-top boxes and created the X1 platform, which still doesn’t meet the needs of a consumer in 2016. Your cable box doesn’t know you like Netflix does, your cable box doesn’t elevate your viewing experience. You’ve been watching essentially the same compressed HD quality for the better part of the last 5 years, and you still might not be watching full HD programing.

So why would viewership increase because of 4K?

4K creates such an immersive experience in the home that can only be provided on large television sets. It doesn’t matter how many pixels we can fit in the next smartphone, we can’t really tell the difference and it doesn’t change the fundamental experience. 4K will create a reason to center around the television set. And with other advancements in picture quality with HDR and OLED screens, the viewing experience will only get better.

What is the wait? When is 4K content coming? Currently we don’t have any set dates on the launch of 4K content being broadcast. Cable providers aren’t demanding it of broadcasters, creating virtually no reason to expedite the process. Once the first broadcast comes across in 4K, consumers’ demand for 4K content will be catapulted.

The only TV provider that is currently 4K ready on both in your living room and on a distribution level is the newcomer cable provider Layer3 TV. DirecTV and Dish are both shipping 4K ready set-top boxes, but lack the capability to transmit in 4K (DirecTV did a limited launch of 4K with the Masters Tournament earlier this year). Comcast, the largest provider of “pay tv” in the US, is far behind in being able to distribute 4K content. Comcast would need to fundamentally change the way it delivers video content to customers, something that hasn’t been done before. 4K poses a much larger leap for traditional cable providers than HD distribution proved earlier this decade.

Layer3 TV’s prominent “4K Ready” promotions on its website

Cable providers need to pro-active in pursuing 4K content. Layer3 TV is one of the first providers to put “4K ready” as one of its main selling points. The upstart cable company may bring the innovation needed to industry with it’s “True HD” transmissions and innovative “Netflix like” user experience.

While the only way you can currently watch a majority of 4K content is through OTT (over-the-top content) such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, 4K broadcast content may bring your focus back to cable providers. Once the first major sport begins to be broadcasted in 4K nationally, America will be hooked. 4K content may be the jolt of energy that can bring back cable TV.