What Is The Future of Cable TV in the Next Decade?
The way we consume television has dramatically evolved in recent years. Thanks to the rise of Netflix, Amazon Prime, and even YouTube, the cable companies have had no other choice but to adapt to the changing landscape, whether it is unbundling channel packages or launching their own streaming platforms. But is this enough to survive? Not quite.
Companies in the television business are competing with everybody. Since we now reside in the experience economy, a marketplace where consumers want to live life as opposed to watching it, cable companies and streaming juggernauts are fighting customers’ eyeballs with Airbnb, Uber, Starbucks, and Canada’s Wonderland.
The future of TV is about the experience, not just sitting alone in the room staring at a box. Can Rogers and Bell, Netflix and Amazon make viewing all seasons of The Nanny into an experience? Or, are we thinking too much about it and neglecting the fact that perhaps viewers do not want an experience, preferring to sit on their sofas and shut off their brains for two hours a night?
Movie theatres are an example of an industry threatened by technological processes. Cinema chains had to incorporate new audio and video tech, embrace mobile devices, and integrate some of the latest trends into the viewing experience. No longer should you anticipate just watching a motion picture; it is the experience, albeit, oftentimes an obnoxious one.
You have already the term cord-cutting by now, a trend driven by young consumers who are using their video streaming players to watch Netflix as they tweet their reactions to some of the shows or films they are enjoying. Cord-cutting is cutting into the cable industry’s bottom line, and they might have no other alternative but to simply invest more of their resources into broadband Internet.
This might not be enough to sustain multi-billion-dollar revenues, most of which used to originate from cable subscriptions. So, what can they do to entice consumers to return to or stick with cable TV?
Let’s explore the future of cable TV and how the industry could cater to millennials and Generation Z:
1. TV Interaction
Within the next decade, you can expect all televisions to be smart TVs, a device that is connected to the Internet that allows you to browse the Internet, stream music and video, talk to your friends, and play Flappy Bird. Because of this technology, content providers and distributors can make your viewing habits more interactive, using augmented reality or virtual reality gadgets.
Even if you don’t want it to be immersive, you can take advantage of these smart TVs inevitably coming down in price. With the right television set-up, equipped with sophisticated accessories like a white gloss TV stand, you can turn your room into an immersive cinematic experience without ever leaving the house.
2. The End of TV Commercials
In the future of cable TV, you can expect the end of commercials. One of the advantages of streaming and one of the disadvantages of traditional cable consumption is commercials. Although Netflix and Amazon Prime do contain commercials, they are only a few seconds long. On the other hand, if you wish to watch Seinfeld or Law & Order on Rogers, then you need to endure many commercials every seven to 15 minutes. Nobody wants to do that.
Cable companies may introduce the option of eliminating these television spots at a premium price. For instance, a lot of digital newspapers offer $1 subscriptions to view their content without any ads. The same for YouTube.
Or, these businesses might personalize and tailor advertisements. Instead of blanket commercials about Viagra or children’s toys, cable networks could use smart TVs and implement targeted advertising.
3. Free to Choose Cable Packages
In Canada, the federal government mandated that cable companies offer an a la carte option, meaning that you are allowed to select individual channels. The issue, however, is that you still need to pay for a basic package on top of the channels you wish to pay for. This is why consumers are not that enthusiastic about the a la carte function. What if you just wanted Turner Classic Movies (TCM)?
Eventually, the overall global cable TV industry might have no other choice but to mirror the business models of Sling TV and PlayStation Vue and pay for single channels.
4. Personalized Content
Is there such a thing as personalized content?
Again, using the power of smart TVs and algorithms, content creators could produce films and shows that are tailored to the viewer’s interests. So, if the viewer likes baseball, loves doughnuts, and listens to classical music, then the content could contain these elements.
If your advertising is personalized, then why not your film or television show?
5. Major TV Events
In the 1980s, everyone watched Dallas with bated breath to learn who shot J.R. In the 1990s, when Seinfeld aired the final episode, this was a national event. Everyone would be in front of the television at the exact same time. These monumental cultural phenomena. Although this does happen on occasion (think: Game of Thrones), most people watch season premieres or season finales on their own time.
But cable networks need to make television viewing a major event again.
TCM does an incredible job of this with social media. The network, which specializes in vintage films, has Twitter Viewing Parties. They will have a hashtag and they invite people who are watching Rear Window at primetime to participate in the digital festivities.