In a world dominated by Netflix, is there really any chance of cable being able to recapture its prominence when it comes to television? Although cable companies have started to hedge against companies such as Netflix with plans such as comcast’s ‘interconnection’ deal, the age of cable companies providing the majority of watched television hours is coming to a close. According to research firm SNL Kagan, “the number of Americans who pay for TV through cable, satellite or fiber services fell by more than a quarter of a million in 2013, the first full-year decline” heralding a changing of the guard of television. This drop signals what can be seen as a slow, hostile takeover of the airwaves by services that offer consumers an option to pay a monthly fee to opt out of commercials and the ability to command the schedule and content of their television viewing. The ability to choose what you watch compared to having to sit down at a prescribed hour is a powerful motivator, even in a world where DVR is commonplace this power blows past what was previously offered.
As Netflix continues to gain popularity it draws more and more subscriptions, up 330,000 more subscribers than had been projected to be gained this quarter. The rise in subscriptions coupled with the fall in cable television subscribers sends a powerful message to the industry, that consumers no longer need to suffer under the poorly run tyranny of cable companies such as U.S. frontrunners Comcast and AT&T. Is it possible for cable companies to recoup the ground that’s been lost the last few years to subscription services such as Netflix and Hulu, or is it time for the cable company to step into the background and merely be a means to a television watching end? As companies such as HBO plan to offer stand alone subscription services separate from the traditional cable bundling option, the field of television is more and more quickly being lost to traditional cable. Looking towards the future it can be argued that cable television will slowly lose more and more of its market share to companies like Netflix, holding on to live broadcasts such as major sporting events as a last bastion of hope for companies already long regarded as inferior by their own consumers. Will the additional royalties for serviceable internet streaming be the answer? I believe that it is just a roadblock cable companies are using to slow the growth of such services so that they get some time to think of other options. Well, I’m not sorry to say that it’s too little and too late for the cable companies and I won’t miss having to transfer between 10 people and be on hold for an hour just to be able to watch some television.