Television's death by YouTube

Television's death by YouTube

Summary: The television networks have dominated popular entertainment for almost 60 years. But their time is coming to an end thanks to wireless networks and cloud storage.

TOPICS: Storage, Mobility

For the last two years the audience for broadcast and cable TV has been shrinking. The major TV providers lost 113,000 subscribers in Q3/13 and that includes Internet subscribers, according to research summarized by

People are unplugging
In the last four years 5 million people have ended their cable and broadband subscriptions. Almost all of the major cable systems are losing TV subscribers. Cable TV ratings are shrinking as well.

Even sports are losing viewers. Major-league baseball viewership has fallen by about a third among younger viewers – the ones advertisers covet – and the NBA finals have seen similar declines in their audience. Can the Super Bowl be far behind?

TV isn't the only casualty: radio consumption is down by almost a third while print media consumption is less than half of what it was five years ago. The only growing consumer media consumption is mobile.

The percentage of mobile media consumption has gone from 4% five years ago to 20% today. About 40% of all YouTube traffic comes from mobile devices.

Tablets are vampire devices: they come out at night. Given the problems mobile devices have showing smooth video makes it even more impressive that so many are using them.

The Storage Bits take
Despite the collapse of audience numbers the cable TV and broadcast industries continue to raise their rates for consumers and advertisers. This can't go on forever: online advertising only gets about 5% of the ad revenues while garnering 20% of the viewership.

TV is heading for a fall.

The combination of omnipresent Wi-Fi – much of it free – and cheap cloud scale-out storage has enabled the fundamental shift from broadcast to microcast. We used to complain about 500 channels and nothing on. Now we have millions of choices and something is always on.

And with smartphones and tablets we can watch it whenever and wherever we wish. YouTube - and the rest of the Internet - is a library of moving images, always open, always as near as your phone.

Comments welcome, as always. How has your media consumption changed in the last five years?

Topics: Storage, Mobility

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  • I have to rely on cable for local channels.

    This is especially when my favorite team is playing during Saturday if it's not shown in ESPN but in local stations (most notably ABC). I mostly watch YouTube videos of people doing let's plays of video games. I also watch videos from recordingrevolution and video reviews from 3DGAMEMAN. I watch Netflix and usually purchase digital movies from Amazon.

    It is impossible to cut my cable due to Comcast forcing of bundling TV with broadband. Comcast also forced my mom to have phone service which we no longer use. We can't get DVR which my mom are trying to keep the bill down. I can forget about set-top-box which I rarely use since my MythTV server does the recording coming from cable TV from Comcast, so I can't use my antenna due to the problems with surroundings in my apartment. Sorry, I can't put an antenna out through the window, even if I'm 30 miles away from TV stations (6 miles away from CW). :(
    Grayson Peddie
    • While we certainly have not turned off cable

      We do not watch it at all in real time. Everything is PVRed, and we don't watch anything we don't set to record (never fear advertisers, we rarely skip commercials.)

      About half our viewing time has switched to either Youtube or iTunes. I watch a lot of science documentaries, about actual science... unlike what's on discovery which is usually some burly guy decking out his motorcycle, or some idiots with chain saw equipped robots attacking each other.
    • Not ture

      Comcast does not force bundling of service. Now once the special deal expires it is some times cheaper subscribing to individual components. For example it is cheaper for me just to have Comcast internet than internet and basic cable. Digital cable is paying the stupid tax as Dave Ramsey puts it.
  • YouTube? Really?

    YouTube is great for finding music videos, funny clips put up by random people, & for tutoring people on the finer points of advanced mathematics (such as using integration to find the volume of curves rotated around an axis). But replacing actual TV? Hardly!

    Now, had you titled it "Netflix" or "Hulu", I would have been in agreement. Netflix is great, especially if you hear about a show that a) is no longer on the air or b) is still on the air but not in its first (or even 5th) season anymore, so you can get caught up on all of the older episodes instead of just jumping into the middle. Hulu is great if you a) aren't always able to watch the show in "prime time" (darn you, ABC, for showing the incredibly great show "Castle" at 10 PM, when responsible adults are primarily using a TV show or movie as a vehicle for falling asleep!), b) have other time commitments that prevent you from watching it then but don't see the need to pay for an expensive DVR just for a (literal) handful of shows a week, or c) even if the DVR is "free" with the cable/satellite subscription, you don't see the need to pay $50-100/month for the "privilege" of only watching 10 out of the 200+ channels with any regularity.

    Not, of course, that the TV networks aren't still making money from it. Netflix pays them a licensing fee to make the shows available, & about half the shows we've watched on Netflix we've primarily done so that we can start watching them on a more "live" basis. And since a) Hulu is owned by at least 1 TV network (if not more) and b) they're getting ad revenue from the commercials -- the same commercials over & over again, sometimes within the same commercial break -- they're at least making some money there.
  • Xbox Live app ecosystem on the PC

    What I'd like, is for Xbox Live (or even Amazon) to essentially become a TV network, and allow me to access individual TV channels like Fox News directly, through apps, via subscriptions, rather than through a cable company arrangement. I've ditched my cable box, and I'm using Netflix and Hulu for entertainment - but I'm still using my cable company as an ISP. I believe MS needs to scramble a solution NOW. MS has a golden opportunity to provide an alternate, modern solution to cable, which has become expensive, inefficient, and antiquated, as well as YouTube, which has cheapened the value of content, and has made it almost impossible for most content owners to make money. Xbox One is pretty neat and exciting, but MS should be moving heaven and earth to provide a Goldilocks Xbox Live ecosystem on Windows 8.x, which competes with cable companies and YouTube.
    P. Douglas
  • Death of TV

    TV viewing is normally a leisure activity and most people have only some hours per week available for all leisure activities. So if one is actively doing something else, such playing a game on Facebook, that time is not being used for other leisure activities. Thus to the degree people do other activities there is less time available for TV viewing - not just having it on as background noise. How far will the average viewing drop and how much will other services provide similar content is unknown but it is not surprising.
  • Not YouTube

    Except for Funimantion most YoutuBe pirated ar narcissist copying other peoples videos. Pirated videos is stealing and stealing a sin that I will not allow in my home. No exceptions, no excuses, no discussions, case closed.
    I cut the cable and use Hulu, Netflix, Crackle, Chruchyroll and Itunes.
  • TV is headed for a fall???

    Ya! Ha! Oh please!

    The sun is headed for implosion as well, just don't hold your breath or make any important plans in your life based on either event.

    When people around this jokey website make their clickbait jokey predictions, they need to really start looking at numerous factors and realities that exist about the situation.

    Of course people have more options, and have had them for awhile, many years in fact, so its hardly surprising that many will have found that in their particular situation they no longer need to pay for cable TV.

    But an over all survey of the situation in its entirety would surly show that for the vast majority of people out there that many of them firstly have little knowledge of everything they could, or might even consider or not doing to rid themselves of television, secondly, there are many who are just not into all these high tech solutions even if they are aware they exist, and thirdly, for many there are just no possible way for them to consider leaving behind cable for financial reason, family reasons or any number of other potential reason.

    Don't expect TV as we know it to go anywhere soon. If anything, expect it to begin to adapt and evolve in meaningful ways in order to maintain future relevance. Unless of course for the first time in history the great predictors around here think a major industry is just going to fold up shop and blow away without doing anything to help itself.

    Lets slow down on these ludicrous predictions.