Because of streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Video, many Americans seem to be turning off their cable boxes. They’re doing this in favor of watching what they want and when they want to watch. However, while many people view the cable industry as a dying breed, companies like AT&T, Time Warner, and other media services believe they can revolutionize what was once America’s greatest entertainment industry.
What’s Going on in the Cable Industry Right Now?
There is no hiding the fact that fewer Americans are watching and subscribing to cable television providers. During the first quarter of 2018, DirecTV has lost 188,000 subscribers and Charter Communications, another 122,000.
Meanwhile, Netflix has accumulated 56.7 million monthly subscribers. There are many reasons why many Americans are making the switch. Streaming services are less expensive, they allow greater flexibility in content and scheduling. Viewers can watch from any device with an internet connection and application support.
However, cable industries are aware of their loss of subscribers. They are now repositioning themselves to compete with the emerging streaming services. These changes include offering their content on digital media players (smartphones, laptops), unbundling their packages and offering skinny bundles, and partnering with streaming giants like Comcast did with Netflix through their Xfinity TV subscription. Moreover, cable television is still king of content offering high-rated content. Examples are Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and The Big Bang Theory. It is clear that programs like these are keeping the cable industry alive.
How AT&T Cable is Changing the Cable Industry
Among the largest media providers, AT&T believes they can revolutionize cable TV and bring back the many subscribers who have cut the cords on their cable televisions. Back in 2017, AT&T purchased Time Warner for $85.4 billion to merge the two media companies. Through this deal, AT&T gained ownership over several of the largest entertainment leaders such as HBO, Warner Bros., and Turner.
Through this deal, AT&T plans on regathering subscribers through its skinny bundle called WatchTV. The bundle will allow subscribers to have access to fewer channels. They also get to choose exactly which channels they want and pay as little as $15 a month.
AT&T also hopes to move the industry to an “engagement model” of pricing. That is, channel owners are paid based on their audiences, unlike before when they were paid by subscribers. Through this new business model, audience members would help AT&T determine which channels to put into the skinny bundle or other packages they may offer.
What We Can Expect to see in the Future of the Cable Industry
Another result of AT&T’s merger with Time Warner is that it opens the door for other telecoms and media outlets to merge. In fact, Comcast already has plans of making an offer for 21st Century Fox’s studio and its entertainment cable channels. Verizon has also expressed interest in purchasing both CBS Corporation and its other media company, Viacom. However, Charter Communications is also interested in purchasing CBS, Viacom, and Discovery. It would grant them ownership of major televised channels such as Animal Planet, Discovery Channel and HGTV.
What then does this mean for all the viewers at home? What can we expect in the future of cable television? Well, it seems that most cable providers are moving their services away from the little black box and onto their own versions of mobile streaming platforms. We may soon start to see our cable providers offering their content through a similar platform such as Netflix or Hulu. This means we will be able to watch the shows we want, when we want to watch them. Moreover, instead of paying a large sum for a boatload of channels, offered will be smaller packages that will grant access only to the channels you want to watch.
While streaming services like Netflix are grabbing most of the attention of television and media users, the cable industries are not giving up the battle yet. We don’t know exactly what is in store for the future of cable television, however, we do know that some drastic changes are expected to take place that may or may not revolutionize the industry. AT&T and other media services plan on changing the way we watch and interact with at-home entertainment services.