And the early conclusion from cable operators, search engines and online services is—ding, ding, ding—the pie is expanding. During a VideoNuze.com breakfast panel at the CTAM Summit Monday in Boston, executives from Scripps Networks, Time Warner Cable, Google, Amazon and Next New Networks seemed to agree that broadband-delivered television shows don't shrink traditional cable network or cable operator businesses, but can, in fact, grow them.
“We think there is a solution that is sustainable,” said Peter Stern, executive VP and chief strategy officer at Time Warner Cable during the breakfast. “Deliver all your Web content to paying customers online and just a small amount to non-paying customers.”
That sounds like Time Warner plans to offer a replica on the Web to its subscribers of what it already offers on traditional TV to its subscribers. So if you have Time Warner service you could see the cable channels and programs you want on TV and also on the Web. And if you’re not a Time Warner customer you can’t.
OK, so this is a forward-thinking solution. I like that Time Warner is making its content available on the Web too.
But, I’m not so sure this solution, though well-thought, is going to stem the tide of cable defections in the coming years.
Are people dropping their cable service in droves today? No. It is very early days and traditional cable and satellite programming on a big-screen is still more convenient and more enjoyable for TV viewing.
However, as a recent cord-cutter (I’ve been without cable programming for four weeks now) I don’t see a reason to return to the cable fold now that I have seen that life without—life just online—works almost as well.
I recognize that traditional delivery is both more convenient and more enjoyable than watching shows online. But you know what? When you go without traditional delivery for a few weeks, you just get used to it (unless you are a sports fan). You stop missing the old way of doing this. And the new way of doing things—watching “The Office” on Hulu, checking out “The Daily Show” on Thedailyshow.com—becomes a reasonable facsimile for the old way.
My verdict is the pie shrinks some.