March 15, 2014 by bdetienne
When I was in college several years ago I recall coming across an article about the decreasing use of landlines in American homes. It mentioned that people in the 18-25 year old group used cell phones as their primary phone contact and most did not have a landline at all while older individuals for the most part still relied on landline phones. It made sense; after all, if I have a phone that provides me with constant contact, no matter where I am at or what I am doing, then why would I fork over additional money for something I would probably never use? [Sidenote: this was before smartphones, too.] My parents had cell phones but still relied on their landline frequently when calling family members or friends. Fast forward ten years to present day and the trend is even more apparent. My wife and I do not have a landline; none of our friends do; and my parents only have a landline because it is cheaper to get the TV/Internet/Phone bundle from their cable provider than it is to buy TV and Internet only. People just do not use landlines anymore.
A similar pattern is emerging with cable television. More and more people in my social circles [representing the 25-35 year old demographic] have gone away from the traditional cable or satellite television services. Instead they are turning to streaming options such as Hulu Plus, Netflix, and Amazon to watch their shows. After hearing their testimonials and thinking it over we decided to get rid of our traditional package and opt for a streaming option. There are several advantages to this route. First and foremost, it’s cheaper. A basic Dish subscription runs around $40 a month; a Hulu Plus subscription is $7.99 a month. Second, you have access to more content. Sure, a cable or satellite package gives you the ability to watch up to 300 channels and records multiple shows at once. But the subscription options allow you to watch all of these shows on demand AND offer an extensive library of older TV shows and movies accessible with the click of a button. Third, you cannot pack up your DVR and take it with you to the gym, your in-law’s, or on vacation. But with the subscription options, one can take in their favorite shows on a smartphone, tablet, computer, or, with the aid of a device like Roku or Chromecast, they can watch their shows anywhere.
I was not sure whether or not this phenomenon was true outside of my world but it very much is. While cable and satellite TV packages are still quite popular [over 40 million subscribers as of the end of 2013] there has been a decline of five million users over the past five years. While this number represents a number of households that have gone away from TV altogether the majority are households that are “cord-cutters.”
Cable and satellite subscription services are still alive and well and offer several advantages over internet-only. They provide the viewer with a one-stop shop for all their shows, from the news to TV shows to movies [instead of potentially having to navigate between multiple subscription platforms to go from one show or movie to the next]. They offer real-time access to shows [as opposed to waiting anywhere from a day to 30 days to watch an episode]. They show sporting events [the internet-only viewer has to find a sports bar, a friend who has cable, or find creative alternatives to see a game]. These reasons, combined with a general reluctance or ability to change, will see a lot of the subscribers stay where they are. But when people like my wife and I have children, and our children grow up in a household of watching shows over the internet on their phone/tablet/laptop, why would they go with a cable subscription if given the chance? The answer to that makes me wonder if cable and satellite will eventually go the way of the landline phone.