According to USA Today (see reference below), “TV subscribers are ditching their cable companies at an even faster rate the past few months, and many aren’t signing up with a satellite or phone competitor.”
It’s a well-known industry secret that subscribers have been dropping cable television and opting to go with either whatever they can get with their antenna, or with what they can find online to watch. People are clearly finding that the costs associated with cable television are either not worth the cost or are simply too expensive for many consumers who would continue watching if they could afford the costs.
But, clearly it’s more than that. What’s really happening is that those that drop cable television but could afford it if they chose, are finding more options out there on the Internet, while at the same time, are finding less and less on television that they want to watch. As recently as just last year, consumer’s choices for video on the Internet were limited to television reruns on Hulu, or interesting clips on YouTube. Times have changed, and alternative content providers are leading the charge. Nextflix, for example, the inventor of the mail you-a-movie concept, has grabbed headlines lately, with its new devices and partnerships that allow customers to watch movies on their televisions via the Internet. Apple Computer has done likewise with its library of content. When you add these new features to the content that users can now find online using their computers, it’s no wonder that customers of cable television services have begun to question the value of the shows they get.
And that’s not all, the cable companies agree with their customers that their packages cost too much but claim there is little they can do about it because they are disallowed by law from selling customers just the channels they want, rather than forcing them to buy bundles of stations that may have only a few channels a particular customer wants.
All this happens in another realm of sorts for those that are increasingly finding that cable television isn’t the only thing they can’t afford; increasingly those that lie on one of the lower rungs of the economic strata in our society find they can’t afford broadband Internet access either, which is more and more leaving them going without rather than singing up for a dial-up service that will get them on the Internet, but will be too slow to run anything now that most websites have added so much stuff that they only work reasonably well with users that have broadband. Thus, the poor are finding they don’t need television or the Internet to get along in life, which sort of makes you wonder, what will happen to these people that are being left out?
For the cable companies the decline in customers must surely be a frightening thing as just two or three years ago, they’d seen nothing but increases in their customer bases. Clearly they will have to migrate to other areas if they are to survive, or somehow convince lawmakers to let them sell their services by the channel. Because if they don’t, we could see television begin to lose the grip it’s held on our society for over fifty years.