Story 2015-02-25 3T6V TV Is Dying, Broadband Declining

TV Is Dying, Broadband Declining

in internet on (#3T6V)
story imageThe pay-TV industry has reported its worst 12-month stretch ever. Ratings for both cable and the broadcast networks are down. There has been negative ratings growth on broadcast and cable TV since September 2011. The number of U.S. households is still growing, but fewer households have TV because they are watching video on mobile devices instead. The amount of video viewed on mobile devices is going through the roof. About 40% of all YouTube traffic comes from mobile.

Broadband internet was supposed to benefit from the end of cable TV, but it hasn't; people are also unplugging from broadband internet service. Most are likely utilizing free wifi hotspots provided by businesses, campuses and some cities. Fifty-seven cities in the U.S., including Los Angeles, offer free wifi; anyone within range of a hotspot can avoid the monthly fees.

Cable TV ratings are in an historic slump, but revenues are still rising because companies are charging the dwindling number of customers more in subscription fees. Those higher prices are "part of the problem" that pushes out poor subscribers - losing the TV business even more eyeballs. This is having a counter-intuitive effect on TV ad sales: prices are going up. It's still really difficult to gather a large, mass audience in any kind of media. That scarcity makes TV's dwindling-but-still-big audience increasingly valuable... for now. Ad dollars are likely to follow that shift in the long run.
Reply 10 comments

Content, content, content... (Score: 1)

by on 2015-02-25 16:55 (#3T82)

When it's better reading a book on Clojure than watching what's on TV... well, I'll read the book.

Re: Content, content, content... (Score: 1)

by on 2015-02-25 19:04 (#3TGP)

A fine backhanded compliment of your Clojure book :p

Raising rates is a big mistake they are making (Score: 1)

by on 2015-02-25 17:04 (#3T8Y)

I just got my DirecTV bill for February and to my surprise it was significantly higher than usual. After a bit of checking it seems DirecTV has raised its rates. So immediately I started evaluating my programming packages with them and after careful consideration I eliminated several pieces of programming and the result is a lower bill than I had previously. So the end result of DirecTV raising rates will be less revenue from me. The programming I chose to do without can be had easily via NetFlix, HuLu, youtube or several other online sources. So I lose nothing but DirecTV loses money. If they had not raised my rates I probably never would have changed my programming. I still think there is a market (at least for the moment) for providers like DirecTV, especially for live events in HD (sports, concerts, etc.). Most of the professional sports in the U.S. have their online presentations locked down pretty tight and priced way too high (IMHO) for the quality it delivers. I can subscribe to something like MLB.TV but if my broadband connection is not up to the task then the quality is not worth the cost and the same event on something like DirecTV will be far superior. If the various online outlets for live events get the quality up and the price down then I think that will be the real end of DirecTV and others like them.

Re: Raising rates is a big mistake they are making (Score: 2, Insightful)

by on 2015-02-25 18:38 (#3TEN)

I think we'll probably see a crash in sporting leagues tv contracts. They've been high as the cable companies have been able to raise everyone's rates ( everyone has epsn, right?) in order to accommodate. But as more people cut the cord or drop sports channels, the base will be smaller and end up more price sensitive.

I'd rather go to a bar for 16 Sundays and get a drink and some food, than to have higher bills throughout the year.

Re: Raising rates is a big mistake they are making (Score: 1)

by on 2015-02-25 22:52 (#3TVF)

I had Comcast, and they did the same thing. I just cut my cable tv out completely. It wasn't that I couldn't afford it, but that the rates kept creeping up, and I had friends who had better service, more channels, etc, but somehow paid less than I was. Completely ridiculous for me to keep paying what I was, especially since 80% of the channels I had were full of crap that I don't think anyone watches, and to get the channels you want, you are forced into paying for the crap. I started watching Netflix, and all has been well. Comcast can go choke on their own garbage.

Foxtel in Aus is cutting rates (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2015-02-26 10:56 (#3VSV)

Right before Nexflix takes off here...

Re: Foxtel in Aus is cutting rates (Score: 1, Insightful)

by Anonymous Coward on 2015-02-26 13:55 (#3W5P)

Your comment was the first time I'd realized that Cuba got Netflix before Australia. That's...well, I wish I could say surprising.

Not the price, the content (Score: 1)

by on 2015-02-27 14:03 (#3YE5)

Like many, I dropped my cable TV subscription some time ago. But it wasn't so much the cost that drove me away but the content. There wasn't anything I wanted to watch anymore. The interesting channels that originally made cable so exciting (History, TLC, Discovery, SciFi) had become so genericized that I might as well have been watching broadcast TV. More and more channels were resorting to "reality" shows, in which I have absolutely no interest. The news shows were just talking heads dealing superficially with the issue-of-the-day while ignoring more troublesome news. The movie channels kept showing the same films over and over again. And, oh God, the advertising! The marketing was becoming ever more discordant and shrill; it was like surfing the web without an ad-blocker.

So I took stock of my watching habits; was there anything cable TV gave me that I couldn't do without? News and weather? I had stopped turning to the TV for that long ago; the web tended to be more timely and offer deeper* analysis. Movies? My DVD collection was fairly extensive and I preferred being able to watch a movie on my schedule rather than waiting for it to roll around on cable. TV shows? Well, there were a handful I would miss but most could be replaced either by streaming from the web or simply waiting for the seasonal compilation to hit retail in DVD format. And I wouldn't be inundated with adverts while watching them.

I quit watching TV because they no longer had anything to offer me. That I was saving money in the bargain was just a nice bonus.

If TV - whether it be broadcast or cable - wants to survive as a medium, it needs to start offering people a worthwhile product. Stop pushing the cheapest possible programs ("reality" TV), diversify your lineup (e.g., a History channel that actually is about history, and not pawn shops), and severely cut back on how many adverts intrude on the watching experience. Otherwise more and more people are going to realize your offerings are crap and look for something better on which to spend their money.

* and seeing as how shallow a lot of web-based reporting is, that's a pretty damning statement on TV news

Re: Not the price, the content (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2015-02-28 08:08 (#3ZW0)

My first experience with paytv is when I visited my mother in the 90s. I could have spent half the trip watching tv. A lot of old tv shows and movies from the 60s 70s and 80s. It rocked. These days, paytv is not much different from TV. May as well just download stuff. Pity not everything is available. I would pay to be able to access old stuff.