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The Future of TV Is Not on Cable

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The $100 cable bill is dead; the cable industry just doesn’t know it yet. What killed it wasn’t just a combination of ad-supported online video sites and cheap subscription video services, but a fundamental inability on the part of TV programmers and cable companies to reach the next generation of consumers.

It’s still heady days for the cable industry. Cable, satellite and IPTV companies have continued to draw in new consumers to their pay TV services, and have even been successful in convincing existing subscribers to pay more for premium video content. However, one needs only to look at audience demographics to see that big cable’s ability to draw in new viewers is waning, and that spells trouble for the TV industry as a whole.

CNET reports that the average age for broadcast TV viewers has risen dramatically over the past two decades. Marguerite Reardon writes:

Twenty years ago, the median age for ABC viewers was 37; today it’s 51. Fox’s median age has also jumped, from 29 to 44. And NBC and CBS, which have always had older viewers, are also seeing the median age of their viewers rise.

Even the New York Times — which took on the cord-cutting phenomenon with the headline “Plenty to Watch Online, but Viewers Prefer to Pay for Cable” — couldn’t ignore the obvious. Despite the fact that 677,000 new subscribers signed up for pay TV services in the first quarter, the number of young people that are willing to pay for cable continues to decline. A Times/CBS News survey “found that people under the age of 45 were about four times as likely as those 45 and over to say Internet video services could effectively replace cable.”

In other words, cable companies and broadcasters aren’t bringing in new customers. They’re just selling more stuff to existing customers.

Some companies have tried to remedy the model, with new services meant to appeal to the on-demand-everywhere demands of the next generation. Comcast (s CMCSA), Time Warner (s TWX) and others are pushing hard to make their cable programming available on-demand through broadband TV Everywhere services so their subscribers can watch shows online at their leisure.

But so-called TV Everywhere services miss the point: the existing audience paying $100 a month for TV doesn’t care about watching True Blood on a laptop. The people watching True Blood on a laptop aren’t going to shell out $100 for a cable subscription.

Consumer behavior is fundamentally changing, and it starts with the young people who don’t see the need for cable.

I’ve used the analogy before, but I’ll use it again. When I graduated back in 2000, the vast majority of my friends had used mobile phones to connect with family, friends and with each other during our college years. When we went out into the workplace and started getting our first apartments, we didn’t bother getting landline phones. We just didn’t see the need for it. What followed in the last decade was a groundswell of declining landline penetration and massive growth in the number of consumers willing to go mobile-only.

Today, there’s an entire generation of consumers that has grown used to turning to Netflix (s nflx) and Hulu for their video entertainment. You think you’re going to sell them a $100 a month cable subscription, when they’ve been doing fine just paying for broadband? The TV industry is going to need to find a way to reach those consumers, because there’s only so long you can cater to an increasingly aging audience.

Cable chaos picture courtesy of Flickr user comedy_nose.

Related content on GigaOM Pro: Cord-cutting? Hold the Phone (subscription required)

51 Responses to “The Future of TV Is Not on Cable”

  1. Cable is for old farts in the main. The artistic quality of programming is just plain flat and on the steady decline. TV is exhausted and tied up with the culture wars that have destroyed our culture. My generation is finished with cable TV. So long. Bye Bye. I tried for a few years — I was disappointed. I’d rather ride my bike, take a walk, garden or play with my kids. Cable TV is for the retired and the generally uninspired.

  2. I have run some at home tests, going without satellite TV twice for a period of a month or more to see if I could get away with just internet video. I felt like the satellite bill was getting too high, pushed by greedy content providers, and it was time to see if cutting the cord was an option. Unfortunately, the answer was no. One reason was the embedded commercials. I am so use to a DVR, it drives me nuts watching commercials now, that can drag on for minutes at a time. Another reason was the news and common interest content (such as History, Discovery) that was only available in short clips of only a few minutes. It required constant clicking to keep a stream of news going for any length of time. Of course, every clip had to have at least one commercial, if not more. This was a big annoyance for times when you just want video in the background while doing some other task, such as excising, ironing, etc. Then there was the issue of video quality. I have been waiting for years to get a big crystal clear HD TV to have in my Living Room. The so called HD video on the web is not even close to that of broadcast. It’s pixelated, and jerky. Most of it looks worse than SD content. It makes a quality HDTV purchase pretty much a waste for video content. Finally, some content is just plain not available on the web yet.

    So I have settled with having broadband and satellite video for now, feeding my home theater PC. I use it about 50/50 satellite/broadband.

    I think someday it will be a reality for me, when internet bandwidth gets bigger. I don’t watch a ton of TV (better things to do) so I’ll be keeping tabs on when it is time to cut the cord.

  3. Jed Steen

    I’m 28 years old, married with 3 kids. I watch at least 90% of my shows online… usually through Hulu,,, mtv and netflix. It just fits our schedules way better! Why rush to watch a show at a specific time, sit through waaaay too many commercials, etc when I can just click-n-play anything I want, whenever I feel like it. And pause too!

    BTW, my comp is linked to my TV too so that helps a lot….

  4. Another point being missed is the economy. The fact that many Americans are out of work makes paying a monthly cable bill prohibitive. This was illustrated to me by a friend who lost his job. His wife doesn’t work. His unemployment check wouldn’t stretch far enough so pay tv had to go. His children went crazy! He went to and learned how to stream programs, sports and movies they all wanted to watch. Now, instead of cable, his tv is connected to a PC. $29/month for broadband is a lot better than the $150 plus they paid before. His family can’t watch everything, but they are pleased to have something rather than nothing. He is pleased to have entertainment that fits his budget.

  5. I am currently a college student who watches everything online, haha. I don’t have time to have a tv schedule like I did back in high school. The best websites to watch shows are,, and I also have movies and shows on my itunes. Whenever there is something I can’t watch online, I just ask my dad to DVR it for me at home, so when I go home on some weekends I can watch it then. Also, I just got my first real apartment with a few friends, and we didn’t even consider adding a landline. We are still debating whether we want cable or not. If it’s 100 or up, I know for sure I would not be down for that lol

  6. I don’t understand where this perception that there are no businesses making ‘some’ money from digital content production and distribution.

    Machinima, NextNewNetworks, VBS, GameZombie, MondoMedia, a meaningful % of creators on the YouTube Partner Program. They are out there and growing and chipping away at the old media business model. There might not be one 10bn$ media company there, but there well might be 100 50mm$ businesses round the corner.

    • But are they making a steady profit? Does YouTube Partner Program pay them enough to cover costs and earn them a profit on top of that? From what I’ve read, the answer to that is currently “no.” YouTube isn’t paying enough to even cover their production costs. Many web producers are still existing by living off of their investors in the hope they will turn a profit someday. If you know otherwise, please give links to articles that say otherwise.

  7. But so-called TV Everywhere services miss the point: the existing audience paying $100 a month for TV doesn’t care about watching True Blood on a laptop. The people watching True Blood on a laptop aren’t going to shell out $100 for a cable subscription.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I used to work for the cable industry. That said, do you have any research at all that bears this out?

    I pay $100 for cable (more actually, as I have every channel I can get, and watch most of them for different things). I would love to be able to access that content on my laptop as I travel frequently.

    The TV Everywhere model (once they work out the kinks so I can authenticate with my cable company regardless of where I am) will be tremendously valuable to me. I’d use it frequently – especially if there was no additional cost.

    Just because you wouldn’t be interested in the option doesn’t mean nobody is.

  8. Has anyone even considered the cost of production, and how it automatically goes up every year? I think the first comment below succinctly nails it on the head. And anyone who thinks content online will be free is sadly delusional. This is a consumer culture. So you either have bland web series advertisements or you’ll have to pay to view well produced content.

    But let’s step further outside the box for a moment and consider the economy and social rumblings of recent years. No one has the money to for a $100 cable bill. When the money dries up, so do all the perks we have in life. Like cable bills. And let’s go further and say that America has outsourced most of its production. So we don’t make anything. We just buy stuff. You can’t pay $500 for an Apple product made in China, and then demand free content.

    If cable is dying, it’s doing so as part of the economy. Aside from that, it might be that cable has turned into 200 channels of homogenized reality programming and shows limited to only subjects of hospitals, cop stations, courtrooms, and the occasional quarky sit-com exhausting celebrities from the past.

    • Broadcast TV is free. It is advertiser supported. Originally, there weren’t any commercial breaks but TV shows were entirely sponsored by advertisers. That is now considered within the TV industry as the “Golden Age” of television. “Firestone Theatre” being one such example. Commercial breaks came in as it enabled advertisers to spread their ad dollars over more programs, but programs entirely sponsored by one advertiser didn’t go completely away. And advertisers do so in many other advertising venues from sporting events to rock concerts.

      As for your over-the-top pessimistic view of America, I strongly disagree with you. The only thing that is dragging down this country is its governments (federal and states) and their running of huge deficits. And that course might change come November.

      • Scott, how old is that white paper in your signature?
        There seem to be many items that have come and gone out of date. RGB projectors died off in the 90’s. Movie rental companies have adapted and thriving providing young people with movies to wireless devices etc. P2P isnt by any means the prefered method of “Transmitting” content. Bookmarkable streaming is a much more acceptable “Instant Gratification” solution. The beauty of streaming lies in the fact that people arent storing / distributing content themselves which makes metering difficult for sponsors to gauge penetration.

        And just how exactly do you foresee our government changing? Both parties have failed solutions even when they stack the deck with control of the WH, Senate and Congress. The 2 party system will fail us until we expand it.

      • It was done in 2003, as mentioned elsewhere in this discussion. I would disagree with you on streaming. It assumes a good solid high-speed broadband connection to the net and that’s just not going to be the norm for decades. And people do like to download and play later and really HATE their video’s freezing while it buffers. And p2p is as popular as ever and only growing. Governments try to shut p2p entities but that’s just a “whack a mole” game with others popping up to serve the p2p community as soon as a government whacks down one.

        I think November will bring about a more fiscally constrained federal and state governments. Possibly even a Balanced Budget Amendment to the US Constitution. As for expanding beyond the 2 party system, once I thought that way and was deeply involved in a third political party (Libertarian Party). But now I think the way is to change the one or both of the dominant parties into something else. I think the Tea Party movement is doing that to the Republican Party. I don’t see a change movement in the Democratic Party yet but it is possible there as well.

  9. I’ve read all the replies so far and I think everyone (including Ryan) misses the main key point.

    How can free online content providers make a buck?

    For free online video to really challenge cable, broadcast, and satellite TV, it needs a business model that makes freely-distributed online TV profitable to do. Without such a business model, online TV will never challenge anyone. Once it has one, the other three are dead men walking. And the reason for that goes beyond mere profit but to ownership.

    Right now, content providers sell their ideas/shows to networks and the networks then own them. Content providers sell because that’s currently the only way they can make money. Sure, some can syndicate their programs but they’re merely changing a network sugar daddy for a syndicator sugar daddy. HOWEVER, if a content provider could develop a profitable relationships directly with advertisers so they can release their content free over the net, everything will then change. No longer do content providers need to go hat in hand to the networks begging for money to produce their shows and turning over ownership to them to get it. If content providers can directly contract with advertisers and release their content free online, those old gatekeepers (networks) can be bypassed. Once one online show can successfully turn a profit by doing so, other content providers will sit up and take note. They’ll wonder if they can do likewise and some will give it a shot. Once others prove the business model successful, that’s it. Game over as far as networks are concerned. Content providers never again have to suck up to the gatekeepers, never again do they have give up on their show ideas because the gatekeepers don’t think it is worth airing, never again do they have to give up ownership of their shows, and forever after they can produce as many shows as they can get advertisers for. It would not surprise me that some content providers would soon be providing more original content free over the net than whole networks do. And then there are shows that can go after niche markets that networks do not feel they can pander to. All the niche content provider needs is to find enough advertisers (or a big enough single advertiser) and that niche show can be done.

    But it all comes back to a viable profitable business model for free online video. Currently, there isn’t one. In 2003, I proposed one (click on my name) but it might not work for one reason or another. Maybe another business model will do better. But all this talk about cord-cutting is a moot point without a viable profitable business model for free online video. This is what Ryan should be researching. What he and others at NewTeeVee should be asking very online content provider. What is your business model for your show? In other words, how do you turn a profit? How do you tap into advertisers? How do you get your funding and profits while releasing your content free over the net? And when Ryan (or someone else at NewTeeVee) can find someone that says, “Here’s how.”, that will be the shot that will be heard around the world. That will be the biggest story NewTeeVee will ever publish. That will be the paradigm shift that cuts the cord and kills cable, broadcast, and satellite TV.

    Good hunting, NewTeeVee!

    • Ryan Lawler

      Scott – Frankly I think there’s a lot of pain ahead. I think that the paradigm shift will happen before the cable companies and programmers figure out the new model. I see consumer behavior changing faster than online video advertising and electronic sell-through and subscription services like Netflix and Hulu Plus can make up for the loss of revenue that will come from cord-cutting. It’s not a matter of the industry figuring things out and the dollars and consumers following. It’s a matter of those parties hopefully figuring things out before they’ve lost too much money. I’m a pessimist in that respect, but who knows? It’s just difficult for me to believe that this is going to be a graceful (and painless) transition from linear cable on the TV to on-demand everywhere.

      • Oh, I totally agree with you that it will be a painful transition. Note in my post above (and in my white paper) that I’m not saying the networks will make or survive the transition. I too think they won’t. “You don’t break what ain’t broke, son!” That will be their logic. And it ain’t broke to them means it hasn’t crashed into the ground yet. Sure, it might be on fire and heading to the ground, but it ain’t hit it yet and we might just be able to save it! In other words, they’ll ride that plane right into the ground and to Hell. Paradigm shifts are rarely made by the establishment. For example…

        IBM should … let me repeat that … SHOULD have been the one to lead the personal computer revolution. Seriously, they should have been. They literally had billions of dollars to play with and nearly every single innovations that we take for granted with home computers are ones they developed. For example, the mouse was developed by IBM … and then tossed aside. At the time, IBM’s business model was in making very powerful computers for business. The “B” in IBM stands even for “Business”. They couldn’t see the computer as some toy for kids. And when they eventually tried to get into the market, they failed. They failed because they really couldn’t understand it.

        The ones who brought us the home computer revolution were outsiders. Nerds in garages. [Apple] Nerds selling computers from their college dorm rooms. [Dell] And other nerds.

        As for who will bring about the free online video revolution, I believe it will again be outsiders. People not schooled and vested into the current business model that cable, broadcast, and satellite TV are using. And that goes for advertisers as well. I think it will be the small advertisers and not the major ones that will give free online video the seed money to bring about the paradigm shift. Ford, McDonald’s, and Dell will not back the paradigm shifters until they have proven themselves. [Oh, and those three WERE paradigm shifters when they started out but now they’re part of the establishment. Ironic, no?] Major advertisers LOVE the establishment. It is something they understand. It is predictable. It is reliable.

        It is the small advertisers struggling to take on the major advertisers who will feel that VERY important feeling that all paradigm shifters need advertisers to feel. “What have I got to lose?” Small soda pop bottlers (Jones Soda, GuS, etc.) cannot afford prime-time advertising rates, but they can pay $10,000-$50,000 for a product placement in a web-series. It will take a good pitchman to pry that coin from a small advertiser’s fist but it isn’t as if the networks are competing for it. It is too small potatoes for the networks. A mountain of gold for a web-series producer, but peanuts to the networks.

        And I think what will break through to ignite the paradigm shift will not be some web-series that will be critically acclaimed and considered a work of art. Not something that NewTeeVee’s Liz Miller will recommend to us. No, Liz will probably condemn it as trash. The one that I think will break through will be some bit of cotton candy and/or cheesecake. It wouldn’t even surprise me if it was porn that developed and proved the new business model. And if it is porn, that should shock no one since they’ve been pioneering entertainment from the very beginning. From still photography to film to video to the internet. The entertainment industry hates to admit this debt to porn. They want their forefathers to be great noble men … not smut merchants.

        So, Ryan and the rest of the NewTeeVee crew, keep an eye out for the outsiders and a special eye on the porn industry. Don’t get too caught up in what they produce. Pay attention to how they fund it. Ignore those that fund their ventures through donations as that is a “hand to mouth” funding route. The paradigm shift needs profits. The more profits, the better. Look for the ones that are able to rope in the small advertisers. Look for that very special one that can produce a profit … no matter how small. When you hear that one has, descend on it and see if it is truly supported by advertisers and is making a profit. When you finally find one of these, herald its arrival as the second coming of the Messiah. Dive into its business model and thoroughly understand it and then tell us all what it is, how it works, and how to do it ourselves. You do that and you’ll be the gasoline added to the fire.

        Burn, baby, burn!

    • Paul Sweeting

      I think Scott has it exactly right here. What’s missing is the B2B commerce layer that would allow content owners/creators to monetize their programming directly without the need of a distributor/aggregator like a network to subsidize the cost of content creation. Without that, there is no sustainable business model to sustain free-to-the-user content distribution. Even now, free video streaming services like Hulu only exist because the non-free business model (i.e. network-subsidized production) is still functioning. Take that away without replacing it with something else, and the rest goes away with it.

      I think that may be part of what Apple has in mind for iAds: to create a marketplace (controlled by Apple naturally) in which advertisers and content creators can find each other directly, without the network (or publisher, or broadcaster, or record label,etc.) middleman. That would be a step toward turning the App Store into a content publishing/distribution platform in its own right.

      Some day (not today and probably not tomorrow), that could give Apple the wedge it needs to pry open incumbent pay-TV providers’ lock on linear video distribution rights–the problem Steve Jobs identified in his comments at the D8 conference.

      • Good points, Paul.

        I think another company to watch is eBay. If eBay were to start up a specialty auction website (or branch off of eBay) where advertisers can bid to purchase ad slots, product placements, and sponsorships of web-series, that might be the stick of dynamite that blows up this dam obstacle (pun intended) for free online content providers.

        Or if not eBay, possibly someone else will start up such an auction site. eBay may already have crossed over to the establishment side and is no longer innovating.

        The core problem for free online video is connecting web-series producers with advertisers. Bypassing networks entirely. If someone were to enable them to link without being a gatekeeper themselves, they would not only be able to ride this new wave coming to the beach, they could cause the new wave.

        Ryan and everyone else at NewTeeVee, is anyone trying to start the above? Have this idea ever been raised with eBay? Have you ever asked web-series producers how they would react to such a funding route?

    • Paul Sweeting

      I agree Scott. I’ve been waiting for eBay to make an move into that space. I think they’re a natural for it. But I haven’t heard of anything along those lines in the works or even on their radar.

  10. I’d love to cut the cable. But I don’t see it happening anytime soon. Why? Local sports. Until the day comes where I can watch my local pro and college sports teams in HD over IPTV, I’m going to continue to fork over the cash for a cable TV subscription.

    Sure, services like ESPN 3 are great for nationally broadcast games, and MLB.TV works for fans who live outside of their favorite team’s broadcast area. But as someone who lives within the broadcast area of my favorite teams, I must have a cable subscription in order to get our local Fox Sports Net channel, which has the regular season broadcast rights for the NBA, NHL and MLB. Same goes for the Big Ten Network, or the NFL’s Red Zone channel.

    Live sports is cable’s ace in the hole, and I doubt it changes anytime soon.

    • I think for sports to go online, the sports team owners will have to step up to the plate, become their own producers, and get advertisers themselves. Live sports online can even operate like how it does on TV. It can have commercial breaks during pauses in the game.

      What it will very likely take is a sports league to finally entertain the idea of going “solo”. Shedding their dependence on TV networks and approaching major advertiser about advertising during their games while they’re freely airing them over the net. And it doesn’t have to be a major sport to pioneer this “solo” approach. It could be minor leagues or even sports that currently don’t really have a home on TV. Once one sports league shows they can make more money going solo as a free online program, other leagues will soon follow suit.

  11. jamies pierce

    Satelite will probally go first or evntually morph into a IPTV provider or buy an existing IPTV provider since they are the weaker of the two. ie: cable and satelite.

    Cable will struggle to keep their customers while start-up such as MatrixStream IPTV or Netflix video on demand keep nibling away from their market share. With 4G wireless just around the corner, wireless IPTV can be deployed directly to the television to millions of userss very quickly with live tv and video on demand. Cable cannot use DPI technology to block 4g wireless. Trying to use exclusive content to block new providers is stupid way to do business as content providers will work with any provider and more is better for them. Eventaully the content exclusivity will run out or the bill will be so high it is not worth doing.

    The only way for cable survival is the aggressively buy new IPTV technology companies before it is too late. Look at blockbuster. They never did anything when they have billions in the bank few years ago.

  12. For years cable has had to chip away at the number of people who get their television for free using OTA and now the pendulum starts to swing in the other direction. It was because they offered superior content and more choices that caused most pay tv subscribers to shift from a free to a pay model, but with the internet, the value proposition has changed dramatically for consumers. It’s no longer about 5 broadcast channels that you have to tune in at certain times to watch vs. a 100 with cable, it’s about 1,000’s of free channels that you can start and stop no matter when you happen to want to watch vs. a small handful of exclusive shows that can always be found on Netflix, Amazon, Bittorrent or Megavideo anyway.

    This makes the free TV option much more compelling than it was even five years ago and erodes the premium that many people are willing to pay for cable’s video content. Whether the analysts want to admit that cord cutting is happening or not, this erosion in value will limit cable’s ability to continue to raise rates faster than inflation. Consumers simply have too many fantastic options for them to get away with brazen rate increases without offering consumers more bang for that buck.

    I’ll also argue that the pay tv market is going to face one heck of a tsunami over the next five years as more and more consumers buy TVs that make it easy to bypass cable and connect directly to the content. There may only be a handful of ways to recreate a “cable experience” without the monthly cost right now, but as people replace their TVs, it’s going to get easier and easier for those older consumers to justify making this decision.

  13. Live events are already moving in this direction. I watched a number of World Cup games this summer via ESPN3 and ESPN Mobile on my phone. ESPN is already laying the groundwork to have the direct relationship with that 20-something viewer who wants his/her sports unbundled from the $100 cable bill…

  14. Right, and wrong at the same time. Traditional broadcast TV services (whether cable, or something else) still have a massive advantage over any IP related services – in the provision of mass live content.

    Superbowl on demand? No chance – it’s a LIVE event, the point is to experience it as it happens.

    Sure the traditional “pay to watch pre-recorded channels” cable market is dying – but the opportunity for live sports & live entertainment delivered to mass markets is growing – and is an area where on-demand IP is going to struggle to meet the scale required.

    TV companies need to innovate on the content and make watching live/first run TV as part of a mass, simultaneous audience more compelling.

    • rohitsift

      re: “Live”, last year’s US Open was ‘broadcast’ live (in HD) online — I watched it on the laptop for parts of the final and on tv. given enough revenue (which follows users, especially 18-35) “live” will be a reality.

      @jamies pierce below – interesting take – the weak will try and evolve first – -and sure enough Dish announced dishonline today…

    • Ryan Lawler

      If there’s a live event or a show that I find interesting enough to watch, I’ll most likely be able to find a group to watch it with or maybe go to a bar (in case of sporting events). I don’t think I’m alone on that front.

    • Jediker

      In case you missed it the World Cup 2010 from South Africa was full of live events, and I was able to watch the games online on ESPN3. So the bandwidth is definitely there and I’m sure over time it will only get better.

  15. Cyndy Aleo

    The easiest way for cable to compete? Keep with the TV everywhere idea, but allow customers to select their content a la carte. Why should I pay $100 a month when I want three kid channels, local programming, and HBO? I can certainly live without the majority of the MTV channels and the sports channels, and I’d get more content than I can even with a combo of Internet content like Hulu and Netflix streaming without having to comb 45 different sites to round everything up.

  16. rohitsift

    NYT misses the big picture in this story. I read it this morning over tea and realized – while many of the points they are making are valid – they missed the right audience to inform the story.

    We are just a few innovations away from bit-powered-pixels on the tv. As the audience on that side grows, content will find its way there.

    It is incumbent upon the innovators to make the products easy and convenient enough for a mass consumer market and not just target them at the relatively tech-savvy few millions. It is a big market – will attract big venture$$ as entrepreneurs begin to work on it.

    When a consumer gladly pays 100 bucks for 100Mbps and hates paying 100 bucks for canned cable/dish, you know the market is ripe for a big change.

  17. This is based on the assumption young demos will never change as they age, settle down, and become more affluent. People pass through stages of life and their consumption changes along the way. Some reasons young demos dont buy cable is a) they cant afford it, b) they are living lives that don`t include sitting home watching tv. Wait until they get older and settle down with kids.

    • Then I guess you need to know what past generations of young people did and compare this generation to that generation. Ryan thinks there’s a paradigm shift along the lines of what happened with landline and cell phones. I think a more interesting question for Ryan would be what are the young generation watching on online video and how does that compare/translate to what’s being offered on cable.

      Another analogy to this situation is newspaper comics and webcomics. Newspaper comics are ever shrinking in both number and size as newspapers die off. Where the real action is in comics is webcomics where artists bypass publishers (and newspapers) to directly connect to their readers. How they support themselves is primarily through tie-in merchandise sales. Primarily t-shirt sales. Ask young people you know what comics they read. I have and they always mention webcomics and never newspaper comics.

      • Ryan Lawler

        The young people I know watching Hulu (and I know a few) are viewing the same broadcast content they would have otherwise. They use Netflix as an unlimited film library — but then, they’re the types that are more interested in indie and foreign films than new releases anyway. There’s always something they haven’t seen that looks interesting. And if by some chance what they want to watch isn’t available through those channels? In some cases they’ll pay for a season pass on iTunes (as a few did with Mad Men) and if not they’ll find a torrent or search for the stuff on megavideo or other pirate sites.

      • cord cutter

        For young people the two most important things that influence how they obtain content are cost and convenience (not legality or “how my parents consume content”). The fact is everyone you could consider “young” knows how to obtain any content they want for free in a matter of hours (depending on broadband speed). The only times these illegal means are not used are when it is more convenient to watch content legally. Examples include ESPN3 and netflix. These sites allow you to watch instantly which is more convenient that waiting for a download to finish. Hulu is not quite in the same league as those two as it has commercial breaks and the player isn’t as well built and isn’t easily watched on a tv (I’ve always wondered about this site’s fascination with hulu). Most people I know (college age) would rather download than use hulu. Netflix is cheap for the value you get.

        What content providers need to realize is that convenience is going to be the most important factor in determining who succeeds in the future. This includes: live showing (especially with sports), ease of getting content to tv (watching on computer screen is not good enough), and instantly available streaming.

    • jediker

      After graduating in 07, getting a place, entering the workforce, I never got a land line, was never a newspaper reader, and lived happily in the digital world with hulu and netflix. However recently, I had to succumb to cable for the sake of entertaining my 3 year old kid, I’m not sure that this will be what young demos will do but if the opportunity comes to cut the cable, I’ll be happy to do it in a hart beat.
      The problem with digital/internet tv is that there are no consumer friendly options for the living room. You have to be a geek to use a PC on your tv and that’s not an elegant solution.