The Death of Television?
For many years, we’ve been hearing about how Tivo and Premium Cable TV were killing broadcast TV (though honestly the “invention” of reality TV didn’t help either). But lately I’ve been noticing a sea change among early adopters which may mean that the end is near for both broadcast TV and the cable/satellite systems. That change is a switch to using services like Netflix and hardware like the AppleTV to switch to a completely different model of watching TV.
I actually have very little time to watch TV these days. We watch Lost, Heroes, Weeds, and the Daily Show pretty regularly. We occasionally watch The Office and The Colbert Report. I’d like to watch more movies at home but by the time we’ve had the kids watch their shows and put them to bed, we’re too tired too stay up another 90-120 minutes. Pathetic, I know. Yet we still pay a lot of money every month for DirectTV, which we invariably watch in recorded form on our Tivo. I recently downgraded us so that we no longer get anything but the ‘plus’ package of cable channels, but no movie channels, which saved us something like $40 per month. I considered going even further and getting rid of DirecTV altogether, but decided in the end that we’d keep it for a while longer so our kids could have access to Noggin and PBS Kids. But that means we’re paying something like $50 a month for the privilege of getting those channels.
But a lot of people are going further. One friend told me last week that he did jsut get rid of his DirecTV entirely, and now just buys his kids the occasional new kid shows on DVD. Some friends without kids rely on Netflix for everything now. I’ve seen a number of blog posts like this one where people have done similar things.
Bottom line is that $50 per month buys a lot of movie rentals and pay per view. Now that you can get those downloads on demand, why pay money to cable/satellite companies with crappy service? I predict this behavior will spread from high tech early adopters pretty quickly, and will have huge repercussions for the TV industry, particularly the satellite/cable companies and the premium cable channels.
Things may turn out ok for the broadcast companies. People still need local news and such. Wouldn’t it be funny if ABC/NBC/CBS turned out to outlive Showtime, HBO, and Cinemax thanks to their affiliate networks?