Cable TV Is the New Landline

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People have been predicting the demise of cable TV for a long time, but this could be it.

More than a decade ago, almost all Americans – over 85 percent of U.S. households – paid for packages from cable or satellite TV channels. Which in the last few years began to stagnate first and then decline more rapidly.

According to a recent assessment by investment analyst Craig Moffett and S&P Global Market Intelligence’s Kagan Research Group, the share of American households paying for traditional TV service is closing at 50 percent.

By comparison, around 2017, the percentage of Americans who do not have a landline telephone at home reached 50 percent before cellphones were available for decades. (In the most recent government figures, about one-third of American adults have a landline.)

Perhaps it seems inevitable and predictable that cable TV will go the way of the landline. I promise you that once Netflix started it wasn’t exactly clear. Old habits die hard. Older businesses that make many people richer die harder.

And don’t forget that some new technology habits catch up quickly but don’t stick. Remember MySpace? Or predictions that electric scooters or Segway will be the go-to forms of transportation for citizens?

What could be a terminal reduction of America’s cable TV industrial complex is a big deal. It shows that technology can replace compressed ways of doing things slowly and then suddenly, with deep ripple effects.

Ian Olgiers, Kagan’s research director who has been following the American TV market for nearly 20 years, told me that he was amazed at how quickly the monthly cable bill became obsolete from the standard for many Americans. (There was more on this in the protocol in a recent newsletter.)

Olgearson and the other TV experts I am talking to have not revealed a single tipping point in the massive contraction of cable TV. They said the downward trend was like a series of more creeping changes that had piled up.

Netflix offered us sofa sitters a pleasant option to pay for 500 TV channels that we don’t watch most of the time. There was also a slow realization in the TV industry that sticking to old ways could be fatal. The cable TV companies stopped fighting so hard to keep people from becoming defective and instead you enjoyed selling Zippy Internet service for streaming binges.

Once the cable TV building began to crumble, entertainment companies like Disney decided they could not fully advance the system that had sustained them for decades. They would prefer to have their own Netflix.

There is still a little life left in the old TV. For now, Americans spend most of their TV time watching traditional television instead of streaming video. Streaming is also a tough business. And about two-thirds of U.S. households pay for some old-school TV channels, including the semi-cable-TV services of online companies like YouTube and Hulu. One optimist would say that it is wonderful that cable TV has remained this resilient.

But it is clear that the cable TV system that has brought joy and headaches to millions of Americans for decades is coming out. Wildcards, such as Moffat, an investment analyst, wrote to their clients this week in a private report about whether Americans would move away from cable and satellite TV relatively slowly, or whether it would “suddenly collapse like the Jenga Tower.”

And the effects of the ripples may have just begun. For example, big sports leagues, such as the National Football League, are rife with money in the cable TV system. If the cable model collapses, it could sport torpedoes as we know it.

I always Love TV. I felt like a real adult when I first started paying a huge TV bill to watch my favorite football team. I re-measured my cable TV package, but then a few months ago I was informed that my bill would increase by about $ 10 a month. It was. I too am now a family without cable.


Tip of the week

Brian X Chen, The New York Times Consumer Technical Columnist brings his tech noggin in search of a home-made covid test.

I’m sure some of you were in the same situation as I was on vacation: I wanted to get tested for Covid-19 before visiting a family member. For me, she was my 1 year old niece. Local stores were destroyed by at-home tests, and I had no luck on the websites for CVS and Walgreens.

So I used the same approach I took to buy a PlayStation 5 video game console and outsourced hunting to a computer.

After a quick web search, I found out that the product tracking site NowInStock has a complete section dedicated to covid test kits. My colleagues and I have recommended this website before tracking popular electronics, including video game gear and laptops.

NowInStock automatically scans retailers’ websites for various brands of home tests and shows a comprehensive chart of where kits are available. I was visiting the site late at night when Walgreens was released with some test kits available. I quickly placed a few orders for me and my brother-in-law, and the shipment arrived in about two days.

NowInStock was used to let people set up email alerts when new stock became available, but the site was full. It now offers alerts only through the Telegram app. But I found that checking the website manually for covid tests was right for my needs.

This is not a suggestion to strip off an unnecessary number of covid tests. But there are times when we need quick tests. Unfortunately in this age of scarcity, methods like this are the only way we can buy what we need efficiently. Good luck and stay safe!

  • One year after the capital riots: Online chat about Jan.’s first anniversary celebrations and rallies. U.S. The 6 riots at the Capitol have been relatively muted and my colleagues Shera Frankel and Ryan Mack report that “large real-world efforts are unlikely to translate.” He writes that he has focused on the local rather than the disintegration of far-right groups and national political affiliations online in the past year.

  • How Crypto Fever Leads to Political Fight: Those who “mine” virtual currencies, including Bitcoin, gravitate to a city in Paraguay where electricity is cheaper. Contributing to the rest of the world, Lawrence Blair writes that the crypto boom is now part of the war between Brazil and Paraguay over one of the world’s most powerful hydroelectric dams.

  • Precious Disruptions: My colleagues recommend their favorite video games, including taking players into the subtleties of high school life and the latest version of Hello.

Enjoy this giraffe zuki for a drink. (My colleague Melissa Kirsch shared this in the at home and away newsletter.)


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