Pay-TV operators 'at risk' of losing Generation Y subscribers

Pay-TV operators 'at risk' of losing Generation Y subscribers

Summary: As more of the Generation Y use the web to access television content, why have the broadcasters not kept up with a minority, yet game-changing demographic?

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TOPICS: Mobility, Hardware
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The typical image of a typical student today: sitting in their pyjamas, on the sofa, in front of the television, watching a day-time chat show and eating cereal out of the packet.

Yet this image has not been the case for quite some time. The television isn't there. It's a laptop, at their desk (but still in their pyjamas with the cereal box).

A report suggests that television subscription companies, which offer paid-for content through cable and satellite services, are at risk from losing younger Generation Y subscribers if they do not expand outside the traditional broadcasting model.

It has been no secret that for nearly a decade, an entire generation has been brought up on increasingly faster broadband speeds -- almost year by year -- with piracy at the turn of the century more widespread than a flu pandemic.

We as a generation, through our viewing patterns and habits, have shaped how the technology industry focuses broadcasting towards on-demand media, non-platform specific devices, browsers and operating systems.

Simply put: who needs a television, with a strict schedule and subscription rates, when cheaper and far greater options are available using our broadband connection?

There are a number of reasons why the Generation Y, students in particular, are moving away from traditional sources of pay-TV content -- all the way from cable television to satellite services.

The United States has not only Netflix and Hulu, but has a vastly decentralised television network; far more convoluted than their British counterparts. The United Kingdom, however, is increasingly becoming more complicated. It has what would be seen as basic public broadcasting in form of the five basic channels, including BBC content, as well as on-demand services too.

The British, however, are lumbered with the TV license fee: an inescapable fee that enables the license holder to legally watch any live broadcast, or face the penalty of a hefty fine if caught without one.

On-demand has in the grand scheme of television history been a short term evolution from traditional broadcasting -- and in most cases avoids the painfully extortionate TV licence.

I laugh when I think back to only a few years ago, when both analogue and digital television services could be picked up by a select few mobile phones. 3G speeds picked up, and LTE/4G was rolled out in some places negating this entirely.

Streaming is by far the revolution to television that we have been waiting for.

But issues of privacy and content protection are not warning away younger 'non-consumers' enough to drive them away from torrent websites; where an entire television series can be downloaded in as little as a few hours.

Watching television is more than sitting in front of the box in your living room. It has become an increasingly social, online activity; vastly widening viewing habits through a spectrum of mobile devices from phones to tablets.

But broadcasters need to start optimising their services to be dynamic and vibrant, and in line and in tune with their younger audiences.

The majority of traditional television viewers are of the older generation for which I suspect their habits are set very much in stone. Perhaps if parallel services are available for the ones who want it become available, the traditional broadcasting model will not die out for a minority, yet significant demographic.

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Topics: Mobility, Hardware

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9 comments
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  • Can the television industry sustain itself?

    The way that it is going -- or do changes need to be made? Do you use on-demand services, and if so, are they free or do you pay a subscription? Is there more to the traditional TV broadcasting model than just watching content, or should it be a sociable experience?
    zwhittaker
    • RE: Pay-TV operators 'at risk' of losing Generation Y subscribers

      @zwhittaker

      Sometimes I use the free on demand services on television but never the paid ones. Why rent a movie over the TV for 3 or 4 dollars when you can drive down the hill and rent the same movie for 1 dollar at a Red Box at the grocery store? As for television being sociable? I'm not sure. We'll have to see as televisions that come with built-in web abilities become more prevalent in peoples' homes. :)
      josh92
  • RE: Pay-TV operators 'at risk' of losing Generation Y subscribers

    Pay-TV operators might be at risk, but be assured the consumer will end of paying at least the same or more to receive the content. Whether it is the content provider or the conduit, the consumer is going to pay (and pay and pay). ComCast and Time Warner are already looking at capping data downloads and increasing prices for delivery of content. The cell phone providers, while tauting the ability to watch TV or whatever from your smartphone, are cranking up prices on data services.

    Fundamentally, businesses believe they have to have double digit growth quarter after quarter. They will do that by controlling and pricing any and all parts of the supply chain; from source to final destination.
    7mgte
  • RE: Pay-TV operators 'at risk' of losing Generation Y subscribers

    Caps on broadband put the brakes to Internet TV. It will cost you just as much for you ISP (Comcast, Time Warner) as cable. They get the money either way and they get to control what comes across their Internet
    nqy
  • RE: Pay-TV operators 'at risk' of losing Generation Y subscribers

    Streaming has little to do with anything except perhaps saturating the Net with rubbish TV and movie trailers. The real growth of piracy is due to Torrents and the DivX format(and lately H264) as well as the increase in broadband speed and it's relative cheapness.<br><br>A 1 hour TV show takes around 350MB and around 1GB in standard definition (although the DivX format delivers watchable television even on large screens. Movies will be around 700MB as well as much bigger if you want SD or HD.<br><br>Within a few hours of any TV show or DVD movie being broadcast or sold anywhere on the planet, it's available as a torrent. Now there are bad guys who will try to put out fake videos, but the media format only allows them to try to persuade people to download some malware to "view" their "encrypted" video. I have no idea of the motivation of the other pirates, perhaps sticking it to the man, a belief that information is free or they just wanted to share it with their friends. They certainly don't make any money out if it.<br><br>Now unlike a lot of people I already have broadcast and cable licencing so if I did decide to indulge in piracy, I'm only effectively timeshifting these programs if I decide to download a torrent, as they will inevitably appear on my Pay TV some time in the future.<br><br>This type of web piracy is impossible to stop, as if you can view something, you can record it at various levels of resolution.<br><br>There's also a question of access as well, as many countries and even US states will only get to see certain programs depending on the vagaries of their syndicate and broadcast buyers. The question often becomes would you rather see your favourite show in a few months or years out of date with advertisements or see it now with none.<br><br>Yes the movie and TV companies can occasionally go after someone who can't defend themselves "pour encourager les autres" but it can't be stopped and it's about time other solutions were tried.
    tonymcs@...
  • Haven't had cable TV in 2+ years

    With Netflix, Hulu+ and use of an over the air antenna I have difficulty keeping up with all the choices I do have. Paying for classic "cable tv" at $60+/month to get loads of crappy channels - I'll pass. I'm more than happy to wait a year to get a TV season via Netflix streaming. Then I'll just have a "marathon" for the show in question over a series of days and/or the weekend. That's assuming I'm not catching it via Hulu+. Beyond that I use Windows Media Center to record shows over the air (my PC has an HDTV tuner card). Then I watch recordings on my HDTV in the living room with the XBox360's Windows Media Extender capabilities. Like I said, who needs cable TV...<br><br>-M
    betelgeuse68
  • RE: Pay-TV operators 'at risk' of losing Generation Y subscribers

    Who sits at a desk with their laptop anymore? It's either splayed out on a bed or sitting on the couch with a stool or something to hold the laptop.

    That said, our generation are also multitaskers. I'm willing to bet a lot of people watch TV and use their laptop at the same time. I know I do. It's the same as people who use the television for background noise while cleaning or sleeping.
    Aerowind
  • What if everybody drove an 18-wheeler on Main Street?

    Talk of Internet-delivered television expanding without limits is stupid. In the grand scheme of things, the number of people doing this is tiny, and already Netflix is consuming 30% of the Internet. If even 10% of the people now subscribed to cable TV switched to Netflix, Hulu, etc., the Internet would come to a grinding halt.

    From an engineering standpoint, cutting up video into TCP/IP packets and shuttling them around as if they were Tweets is a terrible waste of resources. For any given level of installed fiber optic bandwidth, you'd get much higher throughput using existing digital cable TV technologies than you would turning everything into TCP/IP and schlepping it around that way.

    Maybe someday bandwidth will become so cheap that we don't care about the waste factor, but that day isn't any time soon.
    Robert Hahn
  • RE: Pay-TV operators 'at risk' of losing Generation Y subscribers

    Streaming tv isn't for me, yet. Sure I watch some music videos on the internet, but for whole shows I just don't see myself doing it yet. I'd rather watch them at night when they air on the tv.
    LoverockDavidson