For several different forms of technology, I’m a very early adopter. We ditched the “land line” telephone when we moved to Colorado in early 2000. My kids have never seen a phone connected to a wire. During that same move, we also implemented wireless LAN technology (it wasn’t even called WiFi yet) in our home and ditched our “desktop” computers for laptops. In 2012 when we moved from Westside Atlanta up to Roswell, we ditched cable TV in favor of Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu.
Sometimes Change is Hard
Moving to cell phone only was easy. WiFi and laptops made everything even easier. Cutting cable was a little more difficult, because the technology hadn’t quite caught up yet. I’m a sports fan, and there’s nothing better than sleeping through most of The Master’s on that great Sunday in April or being unable to sleep through an early March Madness Basketball game because some unknown little NAIA school is about to take down a powerhouse in a Cinderella bid. Without cable TV, it’s been very difficult to watch all the best LIVE sports. I watched the NCAA CFB Championship a few years back on the silent “spider cam” view. It was great: no announcers.
Recently, the Netflix effect is doing two things. First, it’s killing cable TV as we know it (Praise the Lord!) and, second, it’s causing every channel to create their own internet channel as a streaming TV app. That’s great, but to get the equivalent of the cable channels you used to use, you’d spend 10x as much because each channel is about $8-$10/month. That’s just basic market economics. It had to happen to get to the next step, which is almost here.
YouTubeTV is now available everywhere, with local TV options in many major markets, for $35/month (aka, “cheaper than cable”). YouTubeTV is your new cable TV. And your new DVR. And possibly your new Roku or Apple TV. It’s Google, so it’s gonna have everything, including last night’s NCAA College Football Championship game, which is now “recorded” so fans can relive it anytime on their new “DVR”. You can add some premium channels for a few more dollars per month, just like you did with cable. You can use it with Google Chromecast from your iPhone or Android to watch it on the big screen. And, because it’s Google, they already know me ever so well…
The New Cable TV
I predict the end of Cable TV as we know it very soon. The providers of cable TV (Comcast, AT&T, Charter Spectrum, etc.) have been making lots of moves recently to make sure they don’t go away, but in the end, what everyone will demand is a really fat internet pipe into their home and a world of content over that pipe. Then we decide what we watch, pay for, don’t pay for, or download for free.
My pick for the winner? Google. Google owns YouTube (and, hence, YouTubeTV), the Chromecast device, and Google Fiber. There are rumors that Apple will repatriate at least some, if not all, of the $200 BILLION in cash, and buy Netflix with a tiny portion of it. That might cause some ripples, but in the end, Google Fiber wants to be that big, dumb, fat pipe into your home, so they don’t care if you watch Netflix owned by Apple, because you’ll be paying them either way.
Hulu also offers LIVE TV (that’s what I used to watch the amazing 2018 Rose Bowl game), but I do not think Hulu can compete against Google. That said, there is a large market for Google haters. Perhaps Hulu can capture a large enough portion of that market segment to make a go of it. Or maybe Apple will turn Netflix into what YouTubeTV is now.
Do you still have a land line? Computer connected with a CAT5 cable? CableTV? None of these are necessary anymore, and the switch from cable TV to all streaming TV just got a lot easier. And less expensive.