How Big of a Threat is Cord Cutting to Traditional TV in the USA? May 18, 2015 at 8:33 pm
With the digital age getting bigger every day, there’s no doubt cable and satellite TV companies are putting their guards up, but is it necessary?
An astounding 40% of homes in the country are now subscribed to a video-on-demand streaming service like Netflix or Hulu. But, despite the millions of citizens who say they plan to cut cable TV, only 22% of them have actually done so. Why? It’s likely because the options on the other side are rather sparse.
Most services like Netflix and Hulu have plenty of old shows and even some new releases, but the choices when it comes to sports and live TV just aren’t comparable. Some devices like Sling and Apple TV have tried to fill the gap and have a few popular channels to choose from (even some sports networks) but the options simply don’t live up to what American’s have come to expect from their cable or satellite TV provider.
Researchers say that sports channels and live TV are what’s keeping the majority of citizens on board with the traditional means of watching television. While the convenience of Hulu and Netflix is obvious, the variety of choices is nothing compared to the hundreds of channels traditional TV provides.
In fact, some of those who have cut the cable (for whatever reason) are considering reuniting with traditional TV due to the fact that there truly is always something on. If you’re one of the ones looking to go back to traditional TV, now’s the time to do it. With the threat of video-on-demand services, cable and satellite companies are lowering their prices, expanding their selection, and offering the best new subscriber deals of the century. Those who are staying loyal to traditional TV providers are also reaping the benefits with added channels and premium bonuses.
Those who have already made the switch from traditional TV may be regretting their decision. While many companies have tried to make their way into the video-on-demand industry, like PlayStation with their new Vue service, and Yahoo with Yahoo! Screen, many would think that the options for non-traditional television watching would be growing, but many successful networks are keeping their shows on (traditional) television only and preventing them from going to services like Hulu.
Other networks, though, such as HBO, have taken advantage of the possibility of increased reach and put their shows on Hulu and many other on-demand services, including their own digital channels. HBO has even made their own on-demand subscription service, which is available for a monthly fee through devices like Apple TV and online at HBO.com.
Even with some networks embracing the digital age, traditional TV providers are doing their best to continue to appeal to the new crowd. Providers like Dish have long been expanding into the world of internet streaming by allowing subscribers to login to their websites and watch shows from their laptop, but is that enough to compete?
Many citizens who have admitted that they want to make the switch to on-demand television talk about two things: cost and selection. For decades, many have felt the cost of traditional TV is high, and some see on-demand subscriptions as a money-saving option, but those saved dollars come at another cost: selection. The selection of Netflix – the pioneer in the industry of on-demand video – has long been critiqued by TV lovers across the nation. But despite the somewhat small selection, many have signed up anyways (57.4 million and counting to be exact).
Even with millions of fellow users, Netflix subscribers still complain. Not about the $9.99/month price, but because of the selection (or lack thereof) that other users warn people about. Netflix has been expanding recently with newer (yet mostly discontinued) shows being added to their selection, but overall, Netflix alone cannot compete with traditional TV. Of course, while Netflix may be the most popular on-demand service, it’s certainly not the only one. Hulu and similar services have tried to fix the issue. While Hulu has mostly newer shows and matches Netflix on price, not many networks have signed on to their service yet, leaving subscribers with a selection smaller, yet newer than Netflix subscribers.
Those cutting the cable and leaving traditional TV typically go the same route: they ditch their $30+/month service and instead usually get both Netflix and Hulu to help fill the gap of selection. Now, they may be free of cable but they’ve just racked up a $20/month subscription with less options for shows and movies. Researchers say the increase in spending for on-demand movies, like those offered by iTunes has gone up tremendously within the past year or two. So, the $10 or so a month you may save going from traditional to on-demand is very likely to be spent on movie rentals and other services.
While many have made the promise to switch from traditional to on-demand, very few have followed through, and it’s clear why. Until the selection of such services can match that of cable or satellite (while still keeping the prices cheap) customers will likely continue with the services they have – or, in some people’s cases, resort back to traditional TV.