Is Streaming About to End Cable TV Monopoly ?

Cord-cutting has risen to become a household word. For the few of you who haven’t heard it before, the term refers to dumping your traditional cable TV package in favor of satellite or internet-distributed options.

It’s been a growing movement over the past couple of years, and you don’t have to go very far to find articles forecasting the imminent doom of cable networks.

Of course, you could have found the same articles a couple of years back, but after all that time, cord-cutters remain a minority faction among television buffs. Recent reports pegged them at under 10% of all viewers, though growing steadily.

Why the slow growth? A variety of factors, but all combine to make the same point: cable is still king for now, and here’s why.

Channel Confusion

cable tv monopoly

The greatest strength of internet TV may also be one of its biggest downsides for many consumers. Cable-cutters can pick and choose what they want to watch, thanks to the very specific offerings of each different service and device.

However, that same granularity isn’t so nice when you want a platform capable of easily playing a wide range of programming. For that reason, a directv select package or equivalent is still a simpler choice for variety viewers.

Until streaming services begin to consolidate, this is unlikely to change. And, given the fierce competition seen in the streaming arena, consolidation may be a long time coming.

Live Sports are Stuck on Cable 

Here’s a big one. One thing that internet services are notoriously rotten at – apart from some illicit streaming sites – is handling live sports broadcasts. You’ll find a few devices that catch smaller, niche events, but none that can handle premier athletic events like the NBA or even the MLS.

This isn’t so much an issue of capability as it is permission. Most major athletics governing bodies are friendly with cable, and not so much with its competitors. While recent months saw the first agreement for a large-scale NFL broadcast to take place on Yahoo rather than cable, it’s going to take more than one game to reverse this dynamic.

Live by the Internet, Die by the Internet

A cable TV subscription requires, as you might expect, a cable hookup to your house. Internet services also require a connection, but depend on wifi instead of a physical cable.

This sounds nice and flexible in theory, but in practice, it means that a finnicky or slow internet connection is enough to disqualify a household for top-flight access to internet television. And at the moment, an awful lot of houses have less than stellar internet packages.

Will this change? Maybe, but probably not for awhile. Recent moves by both the government and Google have brought high-speed internet to new communities, but these benefits are extended to only a tiny percentage of viewers. Meanwhile, ISPs are being sued for intentionally and illegally throttling internet speeds.


In Conclusion 

There are signs that internet TV may indeed one day topple cable, but there aren’t any that indicate that it’s about to do it anytime soon.

An awful lot of the obstacles that prevent the transition aren’t the kind that go away overnight, or even over the course of a few years. For now, stability, speed, and a quality spread of variety content ensure that cable remains firmly on the throne.

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