September 1st, 2010
Last November, I wrote a column here about the future of cable television. In that column from last November I forecast:
“Cable television subscriptions will experience noticeable percentage declines in the next three to five years.”
Last week it was announced that for the first time in history paid television subscriptions dropped 216,000 with cable taking the greatest hit.
The conventional wisdom of course is that this is due to the bad economic conditions of today. Of course that is a factor, but the times have been bad for the past two years. The new dynamic is what I touched upon in last year’s column; that the video viewing marketplace is fundamentally changing, that disintermediation is entering the living room with televisions with internet connectivity and that people have become increasingly comfortable with alternative screens. In addition, people have come to accept paying for what they watch. The cable television model is based upon having people pay for all the channels they don’t watch. Why would people who willingly pay for what they watch any longer except paying for channels they don’t watch?
Of course, a decline of 216,000 subscribers is nowhere near a “noticeable percentage decline”, but I believe that this first ever downturn will be looked back upon as the early indicator of the trend I forecast last year. As for the rest of that forecast from last years’ column:
“This decline will only be slowed if they [cable operators] accept unbundling and price per channel. This will cause a variety …
July 1st, 2009
[Note: This is a column reprinted from the current "Shift Age Newsletter" as it is very timely and has already received a lot of positive comment. If you are not yet a subscriber of the newsletter, please go here and click on FREE subscription]
Those of you who have either read “The Shift Age” or have heard me speak about the Shift Age, know that the accelerating global electronic connectedness is one of the three forces that has, is and will continue to reshape our world. There are now 4 billion cell phone subscribers in the world. Facebook has more that 200 million users. Twitter is approaching 20 million users and all these numbers are increasing every day.
There is no longer any time, distance or place in human communication. That both transforms reality and creates new realities and opportunities. It is as though human communication is completely fluid and like water, can flow anywhere without boundaries, channels or hierarchies. Humans can interact with other humans in ways never before experienced in history. Our connectedness is a force in and of itself.
What has occurred these past few weeks in Iran will be regarded as one of the events in the geopolitical world that is both a confirmation of this new force and a signpost to our future global orientation.
Even a month ago, it would have seemed hard for most people to imagine that Twitter tweets would be used as news sources about a major event in the New York Times, …
February 10th, 2009
We have all lived through a lifetime of technology changing the media and content landscape. Satellites allowed cable television and later satellite television to erode and then eviscerate the traditional broadcast network business model. Then the analog to digital transition eliminated the physicality of the product in the music industry. Then the universal, immediate and free availability of news and information on the Internet has pushed news magazines and newspapers to the edge of the abyss.
It is now cable television’s turn to face the disintermediating power of the Internet and technology. This is a trend I have forecast for the past two years.
Cable television has long had a strangle hold on the American household as it has been the “last 30 feet” of connectivity into the home. Owning this connection has allowed cable television MSOs and operators to control a great deal of the media access to the home and, in many cases such as customer service and pricing, act as a monopoly. First was the connectivity to the world of cable television. This was followed by …
July 24th, 2008
The tag line of this blog is “A Future Look at Today”. It is not a political blog, nor is this a political column. I have assiduously kept politics out of this space leaving partisan conversations about campaign issues to others. There is a lot of heat around partisan politics and such heat can prevent clarity. As a futurist I think about the future by looking at the trends, patterns and dynamic forces that exist or are beginning to form. Readers of this column come here to get a sense of what might happen and why. That is the purpose of this column today.
In my “2007/2008″ column published on January 1, 2008, before the Iowa caucus, my forecast for the 2008 election was:
“.. it looks to this observer that 2008 will be a Democratic landslide year on the order of 1936 and 1964. Who will be the President in 2009? The junior senator from Illinois.”
This forecast was and is based upon history, and an analysis of certain forces currently reshaping the world today. As a number of people who eagerly made bets with me in 2007 can attest, I have been saying that Barack Obama would be the next President of the United States for more than a year. The reason is that he represents, embodies and is utilizing powerful new forces that are in ascendancy today.
Disintermediation has been, and will continue to be one of the most powerful forces in the …
July 22nd, 2008
In the column “2007/2008″ published on January 1, 2008 I made a prediction concerning media that is worth revisiting.
At the beginning of the year the entertainment industry was in the middle of the writer’s strike. I wrote: “The writers’ strike in the entertainment business is now two months old. Its’ length, the animosity it has engendered and the immediate consequences of it are significant. It has within it the seeds of structural and permanent change in the entertainment business……While the detailed outcome of the strike is not clear, what is clear is that it will have a permanent structural impact on the entertainment business. It is a “change event” of some magnitude.”
This has turned out to be an accurate prediction. All one has to do is take a look at the broadcast networks’ schedules to see the affects of the writer’s strike. The once proud networks, home to magnificent dramas and classic comedy, now are reduced to filling evening after evening with reality competition shows. Who wants to marry the farmer? Who is the best celebrity dancer? Which grossly overweight contestant will lose the most pounds? These programs all fit under the umbrella title of â€˜reality programming’ yet we know that they aren’t real in the true sense, but are staged, rehearsed, manipulated and highly edited.
Broadcast television through the decades was defined by great writing. Think Rod Serling, Norman Lear, Matt Groening and many others. The networks stood for the highest quality television. This quality came from great writing. The …