Cut, Cut, Cut The Cord. Now All I Do Is Stream….


Except when I want to see the home team….

I was an early cable adopter in my first apartment in Elizabeth, New Jersey in 1974. “Cable” at that time consisted of what was then called Home Box Office (HBO) and MSG. I was in heaven. Home Box Office was just that–movies (Gone With The Wind was an early staple). Furthermore I was able to watch the Knicks & Rangers on MSG. I remember having a room full of friends watching the Rangers-Islanders playoffs. Just two channels, but I thought cable was all that and a bag of chips.

The 70s, 80s and 90s were the growth era for cable. The last decade the growth of broadband added to this. We’ve all now been “double and triple played” to death.

But fast forward to 2014 and the world is changing again. Comcast, a secondary player in cable in the early days, now dominates the cable and broadband world landscape. And though cable and secondarily satellite services dominate delivery of programming, there is a small, but growing, number of cord cutters and cord “never wasses” in today’s world, for whom “cable” in the traditional sense of its delivery is not part of their video plan. A new era of video has arrived where users with broadband, but without a cable cord, can select the programming they want and are willing to pay for on an a la carte basis. And with this change, cable, satellite and telecommunications companies no longer have quite the same stranglehold over viewers.

In October HBO (that same one I had in 1974) said it will begin an Internet-only service in 2015. Additionally CBS also announced its own subscription streaming service, CBS All Access, which is already up and running at $6/month. Add Netflix, Hulu, Amazon new smart TVs and other streaming devices, and you have a greater ability to get “TV” in new ways.

Cable/satellite penetration now exceeds at 100Million+ homes, but the latest SNL Kagan data shows that there are ½ Million fewer subscribers in 2014 than in 2012. It’s not unlikely that subscribers will decline to less than 100Million households in the near future. Furthermore, even the old fashioned antennae is now more in vogue because in today’s hi-def world, the basic antennae can deliver a better picture of “broadcast channels” since the signals are less compressed than through cable or satellite.

Will this mean the demise of cable? Hardly.

Live sports still drives viewing in many households and ESPN and its growing competitors pay mucho dinero for the rights to broadcast games. These live mega events are coveted advertising vehicles since they deliver large, immediate non-time shifted audiences with impact.

The era of families watching Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday night has been long gone. However, the appetite for video is stronger than ever. The means to deliver video is evolving and constantly changing. For some, the ability to see “TV” without the cord is part of a new reality.

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