Is Cable TV Almost Dead?

Is Cable TV Almost Dead?

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings believes there's something you should know: Linear TV is probably dead in the next decade. That's right, the CEO of the largest and most popularly-used on-demand streaming service announced the death of traditional TV as we know it. He's probably not right, though, and there are some reasons why that's the case. 

Is Traditional TV Dead by 2032?

That was Reed Hastings' claim in an investor's call last week. In fact, he didn't just say in the next 10 years. He put the death nail in the coffin sometime between the next 5 to 10 years. So yes, he's saying traditional linear TV could be pushing up daisies before even this decade is out. But how likely is that to be the case? Well, the data really doesn't back that up, for a few reasons. 

1. Baby Boomers Are Still Heavy Cable TV Users

While it's true that much of the cord-cutting activity these days is from those ages 57 and up, that age range is also still heavily invested in or simply just accustomed to traditional cable TV. In fact, a 2016 report discovered that Baby Boomers were the biggest cord-cutters. And that make sense, as they're also more likely to have traditional cable TV. 

Now, that said, 38% of Boomers still use cable TV. For number's sake, in the US, that's over 28 million people. If Reed Hastings thinks 28 million Baby Boomers will suddenly become cord-cutters in the next 5-10 years, he might be kidding himself. People tend to change their habits less as they get older, and that includes how they choose to consume their entertainment.

2. Sports Is Still Problematic

As much as Hastings may want to believe that traditional cable is ready to bite the bullet, there's still the problem with sports. At present, accessing sports is still a chore. Broadcast rights are still piecemeal. Many sports are only really easily accessible with a traditional cable TV service. Now, that *could* change. But many contracts exist that last well beyond the 5-year range. 

Unless something dramatic happens with sports streaming in the next 10 years and single-source sports moves outside of traditional cable sports packages, it's not going anywhere.

3. Cord-Cutting Costs Keep Rising

And of course, there's the other elephant in the room in the form of cord-cutting subscription costs. Services just keep getting more expensive. At the start, most were operating at a loss. And many still do. But ultimately, those companies want to turn a profit, and they will. That means increasing prices. Some of which are catching up to or even surpassing traditional cable TV.

4. However...

What do we know? Hastings could be right. He certainly has access to better data than most of us. But Hastings was speaking to a group of investors. He's incentivized to declare the end of a competing industry. We'll take his word with a grain of salt, but anything is possible. 

This Week's Streaming Guide

1. HBO VR Romance Film Streaming Wednesday

"We Met in Virtual Reality" was filmed entirely inside the world of VR. Available this Wednesday (July 27). -

 2. Hulu Comedy-Satire Film "Not Okay" Streams Friday 

"A misguided young woman who is desperate for friends and fame fakes a trip to Paris to update her social media presence. A terrifying incident takes place in the real world, which becomes a part of the imaginary trip and offers all she wants." Streaming this Friday (July 28) -

 3. 'Purple Hearts' Netflix Film Streaming Friday 

"An aspiring musician agrees to a marriage of convenience with a soon-to-deploy Marine, but a tragedy soon turns their fake relationship all too real." Streaming this Friday (July 28) -

4. Apple TV+ Series "Surface" Streaming Friday

A strange, never-before-seen sea creature brings a disparate group together. Streaming this Friday (July 28) on Apple TV+ -

News and Industry Developments

1. Netflix's Streaming Future Is More Expensive and Less Convenient

It ain't looking pretty, to be honest. - CNN

2. Prime Video Finally Got a Much-Needed Redesign

It's pretty AND functional. - ArsTechnica

3. Hulu Stays Out of Politics by Rejecting Campaign Ads

The company wants nothing to do with it. - Bloomberg

4. Illegal Sports Streaming Services Getting Targeted

UK authorities are going in hard on illegal sports streaming once again. - Advanced Television

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