The End of the Cable Era?

June 15, 2011

internet, tv, mobile, streaming


At the Video Advertising Summit in New York last week, executives from Disney, Turner, ESPN, and Comcast were in unanimous agreement that we are only two years away from 75% of content being available online and on mobile devices.  The idea of TV 'everywhere' is imminent and networks will soon be 'agnostic' about where and when their content is viewed. 

This is no surprise due to the large increase in smart phone users every year. A recent report by Knowledge Networks claims that 38 percent of households use Internet-enabled mobile devices. Research company IDC predicts a billion smart phone users by 2015.

D.M. Levine from AdWeek points out one issue that may stand in the way of mobile streaming: the recent caps on broadband by AT&T.   Its users experience extra charges if they go over their allotted amount of broadband. This may slow a switch to mobile becoming a major platform for viewing television in the future.

However, with more users preferring to stream video to their televisions, mobile phones or tablets, they will be less likely to buy cable subscriptions.

In fact, cable companies have already felt this pain- The Financial Times reported last December that cable experienced the biggest decline in subscribers in 30 years. Younger users are already turning to the Internet for their content, and with more of that content becoming available- that number will only increase.

Not only will younger users be able to get more TV content through their tablets and mobile devices, but also through their gaming platforms as well. Microsoft recently announced at E3, the addition of Live TV to the Xbox. PS3, Wii, and Xbox can all currently stream from Netflix as well.  Not to mention what Apple is doing with its Apple TV service.

It is possible users will pay more for their Internet but not shell out for cable. All these types of streaming would eliminate cable from the soon to be outdated phone/cable/Internet bundle.  The bundle will just be Internet and mobile subscriptions with so many households deciding to go only mobile.

Data plans will also be largely affected by more television content being available online. A recent Samsung study indicated 85 percent of U.S. consumers over 18 either have, or are planning, to purchase a tablet.  (It’s worth noting that Samsung has just released its own tablet.)  Nonetheless, more streaming content means bigger data plans for users' tablets and smart phones.