Television's death by YouTube

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.
Written by Robin Harris, Contributor

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 Businessinsider.com.

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?

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