TV has been the major source of entertainment and information for a very long time, and it is only in recent times that we have seen a shift in preference towards modern internet-based mediums. TV was a technological marvel itself back in the day. The jump from radio to TV was a big thing because, before that, people were only able to experience movies in big-screen theaters. With TV, everyone had a personal theater in their homes. After the TV, there was a need to broadcast content on it, because who would have watched blank screens? Then, came the cable TV, although in beginning it was just limited to only a few channels and the quality was not good, to say the least. However, with advancements in technology, cable and TV both evolved, and now we see that there are hundreds of channels in cable programming with HD picture quality and many providers offering these services all over the US. You can check out RCN TV as an example.
Similarly, television sets have also evolved to be slimmer, compact and now provide 3D and 4K picture qualities. Then, there is the concept of smart TVs, which is the modern form of conventional TVs with a mix of internet and smartphone-like features and the options to install different apps. Cable TV has entertained the masses for so long and this technology had immense influence over the general audience so much so that the news media that we see today is only because of cable TV, which is still the most consumed source of news to date. It can shape perceptions and shift narratives and there are quite substantial reasons behind so much power of cable TV. There are 34.34 million cable subscribers in the US and there are 285 million TVs currently in use in the US alone.
Cord Cutting and the Future of Cable TV
Although cable TV is still very much popular among the general audience, the hype around it is dying down slowly and a few key factors are being the major driving force behind this change. Although there was a significant increase in TV consumption, ranging from 15 to 40 percent as compared to stats in 2011, but this was a temporary thing because of the pandemic and its following lockdowns. Now, the majority of users are moving on to more advanced technologies. Since cable TV has been around for quite a while, it is becoming obsolete and there is a need for change. This change comes in the form of cord-cutting. It is a trend that is rapidly gaining momentum among common TV watchers to ditch the traditional cable TV setup and go digital through mediums like streaming, internet TV, and on-demand services.
There are a lot of reasons why people are shifting to cord-cutting and the major reason is cost. TV cable subscriptions don’t come cheap especially if you have a decent package with premium channels. Apart from the subscription cost, there are a lot of miscellaneous charges in terms of taxes, fees, surcharges, equipment rentals, and installation costs that a user has to pay while subscribing to cable TV. Besides cost issues, there are problems like an outage, technical difficulty, and external interferences that make up a lot of fuss for users. Due to these and many other reasons, people are transcending over to the internet in order to watch their favorite programming. Cord-cutting literally means to do away with your traditional cable TV equipment and cords for an internet-oriented approach that has been possible through smart TVs.
Alternatives to Cable TV
Since most people have smart TVs with the support of the internet and various apps, this has led to a boom in the adoption of internet TV and streaming apps that were once limited to devices like smartphones. Since most of the subscribers are already internet users, they feel like paying for cable TV is an extra cost if they can enjoy the same services over the internet. That is why technologies like streaming apps, IPTV, and on-demand services have started taking over traditional cable TV as somewhat like an upgrade and a better alternative. This trend skyrocketed in the pandemic.
This is one sort of medium that has emerged as a rightful opponent to cable TV. Although streaming apps have been around a while, it was only in the past 5 years or so that they have gained momentum among the audience and most of the credit goes to Netflix. Estimates show that the number of active Netflix users is around 214 million out of 74 million in the US and Canada, and considering this is just the number of accounts and usually research suggests that one account is shared between at least two to three people. This is just the user base of one streaming app and there are countless others as well. This just gives an idea of how popular these apps have become. Many new shows and even films are being released on OTT platforms like these streaming apps since cinemas are closed or operating in a limited capacity due to the pandemic.
Internet over TV is a new concept that is well on its way to taking over traditional cable TV. There are a lot of benefits of Internet-based TV services. These services are coming in different shapes and forms today with the most famous one being IPTV. The best thing about IPTV is that it works like a TV but without any of the fuss. It’s just a TV app that works across different devices over the internet and provides regular TV programming that you expect from any cable TV service. This is a plus point of IPTV over streaming service, where a streaming service only offers prerecorded content in form of movies and shows and does not provide any standard channels or live programming like news and sports, everything of this sort is available on IPTV.
On-demand services are considered as a mixture of both the traditional cable TV service and streaming apps. On-demand is a self-explanatory term that allows users to get certain channels, movies, sitcoms, and pay-per-view events for a limited time as a paid service like a rental. This allows them to avoid heavy fees for the entire library and order stuff that they like to watch as an ala carte service. This provides users with the ability for better customizations and creates a plan according to their needs and budgets.
Cable TV is a very entertaining service and probably the major source of entertainment for many households, but this is also a fact that it has had a long run and is now getting outdated. There are many new technologies like the ones mentioned above that are way more convenient and cost-effective in comparison to traditional cable programming, and it’s only a matter of time before these technologies are going to take over cable TV, making it obsolete.