Netflix CEO Puts An Expiration Date On Traditional Broadcast Television: 2030
from the revolution-is-IP-televised dept
Netflix’s path of disruption has been nothing if not entertaining, whether it’s the company’s attempt to disrupt antiquated theater release windows with simultaneous theater and streaming releases, or its foray into original content. As Netflix passes the 53.1 million subscriber mark worldwide, it’s been equally entertaining to watch the global legacy TV industry stumbling around trying to thwart this inevitable progress, whether it’s AMC theaters refusing to carry Netflix’s “Crouching Dragon” sequel, the increasingly absurd shenanigans we’ve seen afoot on the ISP interconnection front, or Australia’s attempts to outlaw VPNs.
When it comes to measuring the transition to Internet video, viewer tracking firms like Nielsen have been very happy to ignore data illustrating Netflix’s rise — so broadcast and cable executives are more comfortable with their heads buried deeply in the sand. Speaking in Mexico to promote his company’s international expansion efforts, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings this week stated Nielsen’s recent announcement to finally track Netflix and Amazon viewers was “not very relevant,” since Nielsen still isn’t capable of tracking phone and tablet viewing specifically.
Hastings also took the opportunity to offer up his predicted expiration date for the legacy TV industry:
“It’s not very relevant,” he said. “There’s so much viewing that happens on a mobile phone or an iPad that [Nielsen won’t] capture.”…As for free-to-air TV, Hastings believes its days are numbered. “It’s kind of like the horse, you know, the horse was good until we had the car,” he said. “The age of broadcast TV will probably last until 2030.”
Maybe, maybe not. There have been significant strides in getting broadcasters to loosen up licensing rights for live TV streaming, and that’s going to result in a slew of standalone streaming services launching in 2015 from the likes of Dish Networks, HBO, Showtime, Sony and Verizon Wireless. Netflix, Amazon and company have also been making great strides in developing original content that doesn’t suck, from Netflix’s “House of Cards,” to Amazon’s “Transparent.” Even the industry analysts that used to mock and deny the cord cutting trend have finally, quietly, acknowledged the trend is real.
That said, the incumbent gatekeepers won’t magically disappear as IP television becomes the norm. Whether it’s the allegations they’re intentionally throttling interconnection points, attempts to regulate Netflix to death, or the use of usage caps to protect TV revenues, there’s every indication they’re not going to be taking the transition gracefully. The industry’s core strategy at the moment is to use regulatory to ride the legacy cash cow right into the ground with a series of endless rate hikes for massive channel bundles, then complain vocally when users fail to see the value in that equation.
Only when consumers begin to cut the cord en masse will the cable industry finally respond to consumer demands for things like cheaper, a la carte content — probably right around the year 2029.