Will Video Streaming Replace Cable Television? With companies such as Amazon, Time Warner Cable, and Comcast set to foray into the video streaming segment, it is now a wait and watch game.

By Vinil Ramdev

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There was a time when cable was considered the sole means of getting access to quality television programming. Not anymore! The influx of online video and streaming services is now threatening the very existence of cable and satellite television.

Cable loyalists are now finding it increasingly convenient to turn to the internet for their favorite shows. A study carried out by consumer insights firm iModerate and backed by social data from Luminoso indicates that over 40 per cent of households has a subscription to a video streaming service.

A similar survey by Deloitte puts this figure at 42 per cent. The survey further found out that around 56 per cent of those surveyed prefer to stream movies. This is against the 45 per cent who prefer to watch TV programs live. Also, people in the age group 14-25 ranked internet video services higher than television, with a whopping 72 per cent stating that streaming video was one of the most valuable services. But older age groups continue to stay faithful to pay channels with 80 per cent of those aged between 32 - 48 preferring pay channels.

Advantages of Cable TV

  • One major advantage cable and satellite have compared to over-the-top (OTT) systems is the variety and volume of programming. Streaming sites lack new content and relay programming that has already premiered on cable channels after a significant amount of time.
  • Also, popular sporting events are primarily made available live on pay channels as this market is often quite expensive and beyond the reach of OTT websites. Of course, big names like Yahoo are venturing into the sports segment but the trend is yet to catch on.

Causes for Decline in Cable TV Viewers

The primary reasons why consumers are distancing themselves from cable and satellite television, is, increase in subscription costs, selective bundling packages, and rising network disputes. This is causing frustration among the consumers who are fuming at cable and satellite TV providers.

As a result, more and more people are looking for a cost-effective alternative. But decline does not necessarily mean cessation in all forms. Quite a few cable companies in the US and Europe are seeking to enter into agreements with OTT companies to integrate online programming with cable set-top boxes. Examples include the tie-ups between UK-based Virgin Media and Netflix.

Reasons for Video Streaming Popularity

  • The growth of the internet is taking place faster than you can blink and is increasingly becoming reliable. The reach of smart TVs and adapters is also on the rise with more and more people choosing these.
  • The freedom to watch your favorite programs on demand on any device, with the experience personalized to cater to individual tastes is way too lucrative.
  • The quality of internet TV apps is frequently updated and improvements take place at a quicker pace, assuring viewers of an amazing video experience.

The disadvantages of Video Streaming

A Quality of the videos is what turns out to be a letdown as far as streaming is concerned. A majority of streamed videos are accompanied by issues such as re-buffering, slow video startup, and low-resolution pictures. For instance, watching a sporting event on live streaming is no fun if the picture freezes and jumps every few seconds.

  • Viewers who faced buffering problems gradually lost interest in continuing to watch the videos.
  • Another aspect impacting viewer numbers is the start time. Delays by even two seconds resulted in viewer abandonment.

The presence of a number of variables is one reason why live streaming is a difficult process—the different types of devices that people use to watch videos on varying internet speeds, types of modems, the kind of routers, and the like. It's like a game of chance. If you are really lucky, you will have a great viewing experience. Else you might end up feeling extremely frustrated about not being able to watch the show you want.

New technology is definitely disruption the cable TV business but the fact remains that delivering quality video content over the internet in a reliable manner is not a simple task. The imminent solution seems to be some type of compromise between OTT technology systems, and cable or satellite services to ensure the best of programming services reach consumers every time.

With companies such as Amazon, Time Warner Cable, and Comcast set to foray into the video streaming segment, it is now a wait and watch game.

Vinil Ramdev

Entrepreneur and Business Writer

Vinil Ramdev is an entrepreneur, business writer and marketer. He graduated with a Bachelors degree in Marketing in 2004. Since then, Vinil has been involved in starting and growing several businesses predominantly in retail, marketing, media, advertising and on the internet. His skill for seeing the big picture, and identifying trends and patterns have made him a sort-after consultant for companies who want to grow their business and make their products more discoverable. 

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