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Cable Technology Feature Article

May 28, 2013

The True Resilience of Cable TV

By Peter B. Counter, TMCnet Contributing Writer

All of those who spent the long weekend marathoning the new season of “Arrested Development” and proclaiming loudly that cable is dead, now that a good semi-original comedy exclusive is not only available for Netflix, but according to the show’s creator, also built specifically for streaming services, are unfortunately a little early to the funeral procession.

According to the numbers, reported from Fox, Comcast and the technology research firm IDC (News - Alert), there is no reason for people to believe that cable broadcast television is in trouble. People are still paying the bills to watch their stories the more traditional way. Fox’s entertainment division was up 17 percent in cable revenue, when releasing relevant information earlier in May, and Comcast (News - Alert), a leading cable provider, is reporting similar increases in numbers.

The research manager for multiscreen video at IDC, Greg Ireland puts it down to the major difference between streaming services and cable services: timeframe. Combining all of the Internet subscription services will get you one versatile chimera of entertainment access, but it doesn’t make up for the fact that when Netflix emails you with the subject line “New Episodes of Mad Men” they actually mean last season’s episodes of “Mad Men.”

The demand really is for original programming when it airs, not after the hype has died down. The source of AAA entertainment is in the form of high profile cable dramas like “Game of Thrones” and “Breaking Bad,” and the anticipation leading up to the premiers of these events. All of this is not to mention that the big money maker under the umbrella of what will soon be called 21st Century Fox is live television.

The fact of the matter is that viewers want it all, but more to the point, they want it now. And they will pay for both. According to IDC, almost 85 percent of people who own streaming players like Roku are among the 100 million American households that pay for cable.

What originally was being forecasted as the creeping death of broadcast TV might only end up being the end of the DVD or Blu-ray players. Streaming services are going to need to catch up with providing live events, and essential original programming before we can throw away our cable providers. Let’s hope it happens soon too, because with the rising prices of cable bills (predicted by the FCC (News - Alert) to reach $200 by 2020), we might not be able to afford it by the end of the decade.

Edited by Alisen Downey

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