Who needs cable when there is the internet?
I canceled my cable subscription a few months ago, partly because it was too expensive and it became unnecessary.
While growing up in Jamaica, you were considered to be upper middle class if you could afford cable with 200 channels. It was highly priced and only available in major towns and suburbs. Hence, if you lived 10 miles or more out of those towns, you could forget it!
Cable was seen as an entry point into foreign cultures for those who could not travel, and for those who did, created a connection with that other world they had experienced. Cable brought in the hip hop movements of the 90’s and the rise of tech in the early 2000’s. Cable made us aware of other cultures, and the subcultures within them. From the relationship problems of middle class kids in Beverly Hills 90210 to the rich family dynamic along with the ups and downs of black culture in Soul Food.
Cable was the shit!
>>> Fast forward to 2017 and cable is becoming the total opposite of all that. It is becoming an overpriced tool that offers hundreds of useless channels that are never watched, and has been taken over by “big shots” who only give you information they deem fit. It has lacked true creativity for a while, and is becoming obsolete because people have began to notice the bullshit it represents.
According to a marketingwatch.com analysis of traditional TV viewership in 2016, 18-24 and 18-34 year old viewers are watching less TV. This spells trouble for the industry, as this younger demographic represents future influencers, buyers and sellers. Also, demographics between the 8-17 age group are transitioning to newer platforms such as YouTube and Netflix, becoming emulators of their not much older peers.
Where is this going?…
Since canceling my cable subscription, I have not missed traditional cable one bit. The only time I felt the need to watch CNN was on election night when the results were coming in. YouTube, even more so than Netflix has become my new TV. With hundreds of thousands of channels showcasing such diverse topics from aviation to men’s fashion and real life documentaries (you should see my subscription list), there is a world of information to explore. However, over the past few months I have noticed a shift in YouTube to longer form content (in their push to become the “new tv“) which goes in favor of the big cable networks who have noticed the youth demographic trends, and are transitioning to the platform alongside traditional TV. This means that in a few years, YouTube will be just as uncreative as cable!
Hence, people will always be searching for new platforms that support and encourage true creativity like Vimeo. At the end of the day, it comes down to money, and the huge bucks of the cable networks speak. However, platforms that are not forced into the sellout game and who continue to encourage original, authentic, personal and unscripted content, will be leading the ad market and viewership space in the future. Just take a look at Facebook, who is giving traditional TV a run for their money where ad revenues are concerned. Despite the fact that Facebook is all about profit, its a platform of over 1 billion users that still urges individualization and originality through written posts, photos, and now live video. You are sharing that content and building a connection with your friends or fans. Something you could have done with YouTube, but not so much anymore. At least, not with the same effectiveness as say two years ago.
Also, with a bigger push into a internet data driven society by brands such as Facebook and Microsoft, everything is going online. When the whole world becomes wired and connected to the internet, the thought of cable TV will be non-existent.
I don’t think I will ever get cable again…
Going into the future, cable will become more and more irrelevant. In 2016 the release of serials on Netflix rivaled that of ABC and NBC big time, and their membership numbers continue to rise, reaching 33.3 million by December last year. Especially with their foray into original content which everyone wants to watch, they are creating a new form of online production rivaling that of Hollywood. Plus. With you being able to watch shows like Stranger Things and Luke Cage only if you are a subscriber, the numbers will keep climbing.
I do not see myself getting another cable subscription. The internet is a space, despite being somewhat regulated, depending on your platform of choice, offers originality, diversity and creativity. It opens you up to new worlds, gives you flexibility to watch what you want when you want, and provides a platform for the average man to showcase his/her life without having million dollar budgets. All you need is an ubiquitous smart phone.
The internet making a full takeover of traditional TV will take a while, but it will happen eventually. It will be an easy transition for the younger generation, but many traditional folks and brands will remain stuck in the past. Hence, losing out to the newcomers who can maximize these new forms of media.
Do you watch traditional cable TV?