Let’s begin the week with another look at the declining state of my former business, television.
Now you might find it odd that I feel the business is in decline given that viewing of content created for TV (both network and cable) is pretty solid in the aggregate. I agree. I’m not one of those folks that thinks there’s nothing good on TV. In fact, I think there’s more really excellent programming on than maybe ever before. The issue is that it’s spread out among hundreds of channels, each of which we consumers are paying for in some way. Unless, of course, they’re on a pay channel such as HBO in which case only a minority of homes have a chance to see it.
But that’s not our topic. Instead, I want to talk about vampire media and their role in all of this. No, it’s not a tome about “True Blood” and its ilk. Vampire media refers to iPads, other tablets, and other devices which come out at night, generally in the home. It’s through these devices that much of what was primetime viewing has shifted from the big screen and the major content providers to the small screen and other providers. You’ll notice I’m not saying “small providers.” YouTube is bigger than any TV network in terms of viewership and reach. Most importantly for our discussion today, these devices do not require a cable to deliver video, just an internet connection. The effect?
In just a year and a half, cable television providers’ share of the video market has declines from around 52% to 47%. In fact, Nielsen‘s estimate of TV households has declined each of the last two years, the first time I can ever remember it ever declining at all. Sure, the business remains solid for now, but that’s due to two factors – high ad rates masking the audience declines and the subscriber fees the content distributors take in. In my opinion, that too will change in the not too distant future. Higher fees are coming from a smaller user base. At some point the economics of paying for a lot of content you never consume don’t make sense. This admittedly long piece does an excellent job of summarizing all the numbers. You should check it out.
The holidays are here. More tablets, Roku boxes, Chromecasts, and new video consoles, all of which permit the viewing of most of the same content available via traditional programming services will be sold and received. The vampires are coming out. Have they landed at your house?