There are approximately 330 million people in America (2021). Of those 330 million, there are 77.6 million people who still pay for cable television. The current cable television market share worldwide is just below 50%. Over the past few years, the trend has been an increase in streaming subscribers (69%), but cable subscribers have fallen and will continue to fall each year between 2013 and 2023 by 28%. There are three main reasons why cable subscriptions have not fallen faster.
First, live sports and news are still mainly distributed via cable television. Second, the streaming technology has taken some time to catch up to be equipped to distribute live sports and other programming consistently. Third, cable television is still easier to purchase and watch as opposed to purchasing and maintaining multiple streaming subscriptions. If any one or all of those situations change, streaming subscriptions will continue to rise.
In anticipation of the changing dynamic in content distribution and consumption, the National Football League (NFL) just entered into the first original content deal with a social media company, live audio platform Clubhouse. Last week, the NFL also started a podcast network for new shows with big-time distributor iHeartMedia. Furthermore, according to EW Scripps (Scripps, an American broadcasting company founded in 1878), Chief Executive Officer Adam Symson believes three things are happening to the cable and streaming markets: (1) “As consumers shift away from traditional pay TV and toward subscription streaming services, the digital antenna will emerge as a necessary component of people’s viewing habits”; (2) “the key for broadcasters is to start thinking of new revenue streams in case retransmission fees eventually plateau and decline”; and (3) “Americans will need to find other, free ways to supplement streaming services as they max out on monthly subscription charges”.
With the above in mind, streaming distributors and streaming networks (or content creators) continue their fight for pay and control as consumers cut the cord and pay for internet streaming services. However, Sony recently decided to distribute their films through Netflix and then Disney+ as opposed to starting a new streaming platform. Google is meanwhile under investigation for antitrust activity with the United States Justice Department. Most recently, Roku (a distributor and sometimes content creator) is in a negotiation dispute with Google (YouTube) over fees, favoritism, and control on the Roku streaming platform.
Content consumption is on the rise, but mobile-viewing and free options through digital and internet antennas, physical antennas, and partnerships will help fill the consumer gap between streaming subscriptions and cable. One option for the above is simulcasting from your phone on an app or web browser to your television. Maybe eventually a company (distributor or creator) will create a one-stop shop for all with free and paid options.
There are a multitude of options to consume content today. Of course the problem is streaming subscription fatigue and the large expense of cable for many channels that consumers do not have the time or interest in consuming. For now, it could be that antennas (likely of the digital variety) are the solution consumers need.