Michael Luisi on The Rise and Fall of Television and the Switch to Streaming Services
The writing has been on the wall for a decade and it’s now official: cable television is dying, being slowly stomped on and drained of its remaining lifeforce by increasingly powerful streaming services like Netflix, HBO Go, Amazon Prime, and Hulu.
Netflix alone surpassed all cable and satellite TV providers in users by the end of 2018 according to a report from PwC, with 76% of consumers polled being subscribers of the service. Just 67% had any cable or satellite package, down from 73% a year earlier. And the trend is only intensifying among younger viewers, who primarily use streaming services at twice the rate of cable.
Other than briefly stalling in 2011, when its subscriber count rose by just 17% year-over-year after jumping by 60% in 2010, it’s been a meteoric rise for Netflix, which has risen from just 7.48 million subscribers in 2007 to over 150 million in 2019.
Streaming Threat Was Not Taken Seriously by Cable Behemoths
On the other hand, it’s been a rapid fall from grace for cable that many in the industry have been slow to react to says Michael Luisi, who spent 12 years at Walt Disney, which is now on the cusp of releasing its own highly anticipated streaming service that will unite the powerful content triumvirate of Marvel, Star Wars, and Disney.
Michael Luisi says the streaming threat was not taken seriously for a long time given expectations that news and sports content, which didn’t translate as well to streaming, would insulate cable from too much disruption. It hasn’t, and with ESPN Plus now available for less than $5 a month and most millennials getting their news from online sources, there is little to protect cable from further bleeding.
While Michael Luisi has embraced the new streaming world order, he does lament the loss of those iconic television shows that united fans as a collective conscious and created great water cooler moments the day after their latest episodes. Instead, everyone now watches shows on their own schedules and discussing them around others is routinely off-limits for fear of spoiling them, since anyone can catch up at any time.
Michael Luisi on the Fall of Cable
It’s not as if cable providers deserved a better fate. For years, many of them have been among the most hated companies in the world for their infuriating service, excessive prices, and gigantic bundles of channels that nobody wanted.
Their more recent efforts to maintain their television monopolies by squashing streaming services through imposing unjustifiable broadband usage caps on their customers and their opposition to net neutrality certainly hasn’t won them any new fans.
It’s not as if streaming services don’t have their own problems, as only 12% of the consumers polled by PwC considered them to be easy to navigate and discover content. Streaming platforms routinely lose the rights to some of their content as well, which can annoy fans who considered that content part of what they were paying for.
However, compared to paying an arm and a leg to watch cable shows on a tightly defined schedule that are broken up every 8–12 minutes by the same annoying ads, the choice has been a rather ridiculously easy one to make for many consumers.