What’s all the rage in mass media these days? It’s not cable TV which is losing subscribers faster than people lose their hair. Cable TV is up against a dramatic sea change of viewing habits and changing attitudes on mass media.
Thanks to a monthly price tag that is pushing between $100 and $200 or more per month simply for the privilege of watching halfway HD TV, viewers have begun trying out alternatives from YouTube and AirPlay to Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, and others which provide viewable content which ranges from nearly free (you still need an internet connection and a device to view the content) to rather expensive, considering that one of the objectives these days is to cut the cable TV cord.
Actually, I’m a fan but the quality of programming seems static while the total volume has increased through the years. Cable TV companies offer bundles of network TV channels and local channels for a monthly price, with a variety of tiered programming which may include premium channels. Many cable TV companies also offer digital set top boxes which are integrated with digital video recorders and that makes time shifting and binge watch as easy as it gets.
The problem? Cost. Go up a few tiers to get the networks you want, add improved and more functional hardware, cherry pick through a few premium channels, toss in an internet connection for stream Hulu or YouTube or even iTunes and AirPlay, and the monthly price tag becomes competitive with a car payment.
And in the end you’re still watching plenty of commercials, though shifting from one channel to another is quick and painless. 350 channels on, and nothing to watch.
Cutting The Cord:
This is a fragmented change in viewership, but a growing trend, but it, too, has a few problems. Instead of paying a monthly fee to cable TV for programming which may never be watched, cord cutters still need an internet connection, and the ability to shift from one source to another is more time consuming. Even finding good programming takes far more effort, but might be more rewarding what with few commercials and distractions. Cable TV has a large selection of viewing, each a button push or two away. Cord cutters seldom have it that easy, and need to cobble together multiple sources into something of collage of programming; Hulu, Amazon, CBS All Access, SlingTV, Netflix, DirecTV Now, some of which recreate the cable TV environment, but with different programming, and a price tag that can grow to be competitive with what cord cutters were trying to cut.
What I want in television viewing is what everyone ones. All content, available all the time, pay as you go.
Cable TV with a DVR and an internet connection gets part the way down that road, but at a hefty monthly price tag. Pure internet access adds more quality programming (if you avoid YouTube) but management of all the diverse sources is more problematic and time consuming.
In the end, there is no silver lining for cutting the cord, and no silver bullet which kills cable TV as a viable choice for news, information, and entertainment. Worse, there is so much fake news, fake outrage, and fake perspective available throughout the interwebs that it is also increasingly difficult for many viewers to figure out what is real and what is not.
With so many information sources available is it any wonder that people become dissatisfied with the status quo but don’t know where else to turn. Modern society is more fragmented than ever and modern mass media– which was heralded as the way to unite the planet– has only served to create more islands and fewer bridges.