Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
If it's becoming increasingly hard for you to find a friend who has cable on Game of Thrones night, you're not alone. After last year's first-ever overall decline in cable subscriptions, its perpetually rising cost, and the endless array of alternative viewing options, the end of cable television as we know it feels like something of a formality.
Although we're a long ways away from cable television becoming extinct, a new report courtesy of Neilsen reveals that while cable prices go up and the number of channels increase, subscribers are still watching the same number of channels they have been for years. Though it isn't quite a death knell, it's definitely bad news for cable companies, which are at war with far less expensive online streaming services like Hulu and Netflix. According to the report, the average American only watches 9% of the channels they actually pay for, an alarming statistic that could persuade even the most ardent cable supporter to cut the proverbial cord once and for all.
Rather than sit still and watch their revenues plummet, networks like HBO have taken the fight directly to their online competitors with their "TV Anywhere" initiatives, which allow subscribers to access their programming on a variety of devices. However, instead of persuading non-subscribers to drink the cable Kool-Aid, services like HBO Go have instead enabled them to watch HBO shows without having to trek out to the homes of their friends who actually do subscribe. All you password hogs know exactly what we're talking about.
While it's difficult to imagine a television landscape without cable, the paradigm shift in how and when we consume our television is a very real one. Most young people watch their favorite shows on everything but a television, so it's not unfathomable to think that some networks that rely on subscription-based revenue might one day abandon the traditional television model for an entirely web-based one. HBO's recent deal with Amazon Prime already suggests that the cable giant is adapting to the changing landscape, and may one day begin developing content for Internet consumption exclusively.