Color me as a member of a growing crowd of television watchers who want to pull the cable TV plug but just can’t justify it yet. But soon. Very soon. Apple’s new Apple TV 4K is the most compelling of a number of streaming video devices for the home. Sorry, it won’t kill cable TV.
The problem with all of these many and diverse and varied sources of content these days is simple. They are more alike than different. There are so many available– and the number is growing– that all I see of the future is a fragmented mess of TV viewing options; at home local, and on the road mobile.
Apple’s new Apple TV 4K has plenty going for it and Apple’s future seems secure for a few more years because we’re just now entering the era of quality hardware to match high resolution video. It’s not just 4K that Apple brought to the table. That was long overdue. Apple went with 4K HDR– both DolbyVision and HDR10; the competing standards– which promises video quality and vibrance that makes 1080p HD TVs and even 4K UHD TV’s look like 480p Sony truck-sized boxes of yesteryear.
Yes. It’s that good.
So, what’s the problem? Why won’t Apple’s obvious advancement not change the television and video viewing landscape? In a word, fragmentation. Back in the days of my youth our household had over-the-air television, and thanks to my father’s ability to park a tall antenna in the back of the house, we had four TV channels when our neighbors struggled to get two or three.
Did you get that? Four television channels. Not 40 or so as you see with some new streaming television packages. Not 400 like you’ll see with all the bells and whistles on cable TV. Four. Today, content is everywhere, and the sources are many, varied, and growing in number. The whole industry has become a fragmented free for all without the free part.
Todd Spangler says the traditional pay-TV ecosystem is being drained of subscribers. Last year it was 2-million. This year it might be 5-million. Where are they going? First, they’re leaving cable TV. They’re going elsewhere. Streaming services, YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Sling TV, and many others, most of which carry many of the same video content titles, not all that different in price.
I remember when my family first got cable TV. We went from four channels to about 30 channels. Here we are in 2017 and what do you get in the basic streaming television systems? About 30 channels. What we see happening in 2017 is growing fragmentation; not just in services which deliver video content, but where we view content. TV, iPhone, iPad, Mac (as well as competing devices from Android and Windows PCs).
Cable TV will not be killed off by these changes but integrated within the morass, a living victim of change; a player, but not the king of content, because content has outgrown any single system of delivery. Yes, cord cutters are everywhere, and options to replace cable TV are many, but none of those changes will kill cable TV. Like the Borg, cable TV will be assimilated into a society of delivery options as content manufacturing runs amok.