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Cable Technology Feature Article

April 09, 2013

Broadcasters Worry: Is Traditional TV Doomed?

By Nicole Spector, Contributing Writer

Well, if it is the end of its era, it had a good run – nearly 90 years or so. We're talking, of course, about the television. Many people have altogether abandoned 'the tube', opting to watch their favorite shows on the Internet which is both cost-effective and convenient.

Nielsen Co. has dubbed those that have forsaken the traditional cable television, “the Zero TV” households. There are five million Zero TV residencies in the U.S., up from two million in 2007.

How can broadcasters win back the Zero TV'ers? That will be one of the principal questions discussed this week at this year's National Association of Broadcaster's (NAB) Show, which is taking place this week in Las Vegas. 

TV show creators and networks still profit from online viewing and apps, but broadcasters, on the other hand, currently only thrive via traditional programming. Unless broadcasters figure out a way to survive in Internet land, the species could face extinction.

Dennis Wharton, a spokesperson for the NAB, suggests that broadcasters need to get in on the online action ASAP. 

“Getting broadcast programing on all the gizmos and gadgets — like tablets, the backseats of cars, and laptops — is hugely important,” Wharton says, and notes that though there are more than 130 TV stations in the U.S. that broadcast live TV signals to mobile devices, few users have the necessary ware to receive them. Most cell phones require an add-on device that is (rather unfortunately) called a “dongle” and the dongle has yet to catch on as it is just beginning to be sold.

In the U.S, the number of people signing up for traditional TV service has slowed to a standstill. Less than 85 percent of all households use regular TV – a sharp decrease from 2010 when over 87 percent of American residences paid for TV services. 

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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