Cord cutting and the impending death of linear television

By Christopher How | Business

Aug 04

In early 2013, I made the choice of buying an Android TV stick. Essentially it’s a Android-powered device that’s the size of a thumb drive that connects to my television through a HDMI port. For less than 100 dollars, my 5-year old plasma television transformed into a smart TV.

I was able to stream all my media online, watching the latest television series from US (and everywhere else) that wasn’t available locally. Okay, I was lied. Technically these shows are available locally if you subject yourself to a rather steep monthly subscription of cable television (daylight robbery to be precise, if you add all the different ala-carte channel packs together).

The changing landscape in media consumption

Gone are the days where consumers stay at home every evening to catch an episode of their favourite show at 7pm according to the television broadcast schedule. They want to watch our television shows, anytime and anywhere, on any platform of our choice. Whether it is on a television during late nights, or on a smartphone while commuting in the train on the way to work, content providers need to recognise that technology these days has enabled consumers to consume media in so many different ways.

Content providers also need to realise that consumers are not fools. They are not cheapskates who want everything but don’t want to pay anything for them (well, I’m sure there are some). Consumers want to pay a reasonable subscription fee to get the television shows that they want. With the advancement in technology, if the regular cable television provider cannot provide such a solution, consumers are going to turn to online solutions such as Netflix and Hulu who are experiencing double-digit growth in subscriber numbers.

The global challenge is very real

Although Netflix and Hulu is only operating in selected countries, the real challenge for content providers is global. Consumers in countries that do not have access to Netflix and Hulu are resorting to VPN and Smart DNS services to overcome the geo-block.

These days, setting up VPN or Smart DNS for your device is very simple. All you need to do is to download the application for your device, log in with your VPN or Smart DNS account, select the server you want to access and you’re good to go. This is a stark difference from several years back where you would need to follow a hefty guide in order to get all the configurations right.

While Hulu has started blocking international users who are using commonly used VPN services to access its service, let’s be honest, with new technology emerging all the time, there will always be new ways of getting around it.

Expect double-digit growth in connected TV audience

A recent article by eMarketer estimates a double-digit growth rate for the number of US connected TV audience in 2017. Connected TVs are television sets hooked up to the internet through any means, including a built-in network connection or a third-party device such as a game console, set-top box, or laptop. As far as US technology trends go, Singapore will be following closely behind.


Love it or hate it, manufacturers and content providers are embracing this trend

In recent years, there has been a growing number of Android set-top boxes and Android TVs from China that is entering the Asia Pacific markets. It’s only logical considering these set-top boxes are made in the same factories that are producing Android mobile phones and they use the same components to assemble these set-top boxes. Internet giants like Google are also jumping into the fray by announcing the launch of Google TV during their Google I/O conference in June.

While Netflix and Hulu are leading the charge in US, Asia is still a free-for-all market where we see streaming website such as Tencent Video, iQiyi by Baidu, Sohu TV, Youku Tudou, LeTV, PPS, etc. fighting for market share.

With so many avenues for consumers to watch their favourite television shows online, little is left to imagination what is going to happen to cable television and businesses such as TiVo who’s products are only relevant because of linear television.

Netflix has also proven that you don’t have to be a TV network to produce a good television series. They bagged the best director prize for political drama “House of Cards” during the 65th Emmy awards.

Linear television is still relevant to a certain extent

While that’s all said about how video on demand is great and everything, I must admit that linear television still makes sense when it comes to live television programs such as sports and news where consumers want to see the action happen in real-time.

How are you consuming media today? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

About the Author

Christopher How is a digital marketing specialist helping organisations complement their business strategies with digital marketing techniques since 2006. Currently working in Philips Lighting as Senior Digital Marketing Manager (ASEAN Pacific), Christopher manages the end to end digital marketing from generating leads to converting them into contacts for the sales team. He is also involved in proposing and implementing digital marketing solutions that improve marketing efforts and processes for businesses.