Predictions of Cable Television’s Demise


When Bob Dylan’s lyrics “The times they are a changin’” become a worn out record you can pretty much take to the bank that things are changing rapidly, as we’re seeing with the cable television industry.

People old enough can remember black and white television and the fantasy of 500 channels with nothing on. Then it happened when everyone got cable.

Now we’re over it and have moved our attention to streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, cable possibly aiming for the fate of black and white televisions without a remote control. Variety Magazine reports the former programming chief for Direct TV is giving cable about ten more years before they call Marcus Welby, if you’re old enough to know who he was. He’d be on Grey’s Anatomy today. The patient does not seem long for this world.

In 2019, Nick at Night’s ratings were down 24% year-to-year, AMC down 22%, FX down 21%. Our favorite thing on broadcast TV is local news, because just about everything else can be streamed, and our favorite thing to watch today on cable is cable news, because just about everything else can be streamed. Fox News is number one with 3 million primetime viewers, MSNBC is second with 2 million, and CNN is third with 1.6 million. And even they can’t feel secure.

New streaming services like Sling TV, at $30 a month, and Hulu With Live TV at $55, are moving in on local broadcasting and including your hometown news in the feed, in additional to the top rated cable news programs. It’s an industry in total flux looking for a landing point, but you can rest assured that as they times go on a changin’, your habits are going to have to change, too.


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