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.

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Companies: netflix

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Comments on “Netflix CEO Puts An Expiration Date On Traditional Broadcast Television: 2030”

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32 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

I haven’t watched broadcast TV in 7 years. I get everything through downloading/streaming.
Damn! 2030 used to look like such a futuristic utopian date back in the days, and now, well be there in another 15 years.
I feel so young now…..where’s my Flintstones car that flies like the Jetson’s one?
And my teleportation pods?
And my renewable energy for the whole planet?

Anonymous Coward says:

I don’t really care. I cut the cord over a decade ago, not seeing value for my money spent. I no longer have any connection to broadcast tv nor cable. Because of that I no longer desire to know what idiot is doing in what show. Programming quality had already cratered back then and hasn’t gotten better.

Maybe one of the greatest benefits besides the time to spend on something else not wasted as a couch potato, is the relief of the continual commercial and product placement. If any advertisement manages to break my attention, next time I’m in the store, if that product did it, I will look for something else I don’t have to pay as much for them making commercials over it. That added cost does nothing for making the product better, which is why I will chose something that works over something more expensive that doesn’t or is so watered down that it isn’t worth getting.

I’m not holding my breath waiting on Neilson to capture that data either. I simply don’t care.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

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.”

I’m not so sure. By similar logic, you could easily say that the radio was good up until we had the television. And hey, when was the last time you listened to such an antiquated device as the radio?

Oh, right. Just this morning, for me at least, even though television has been around (without destroying radio broadcasting) for far longer than streaming has.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

You know what I miss? Radio plays and dramas. Screw music, forget news and sports, it was audiobooks before there were audiobooks, and superior in every way 😀

Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy is easily my favourite, and honestly, it saddens me that Radio Drama’s stopped being a thing before I was even born. Sometimes I just want something in the background while I work or do something else. Love Radio Drama’s for that.

Anonymous Coward says:

When Netflix starts airing The Walking Dead on Sunday at 9 on my 43″ screen, I’ll start taking them seriously. I have no desire to watch full-length movies on my cell phone. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of improvement to be made in the TV world. But Netflix has a ways to go before it makes me cut the cord.

John85851 (profile) says:

Not everyone is a cord-cutter

Of course we’re saying we’re cutting the cord since this site is full of tech people. 😉

But how about your parents or grandparents who still watch Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, the evening news, and NCIS? Do you think they’ll want to give up the convenience of just turning on the TV and changing the channel? (And chances are good that they haven’t even heard of Game of Thrones or HBOGo).
So until someone can convince all these people that NetFlix or Amazon is an easier way to watch Wheel of Fortune, then there will always be corded TV.

Anonymous Coward says:

OTA Second Wind

One of the biggest complaints about TV is the poor quality of current content. Well, a lot of the older content, often in monochrome, where actors/actresses could actually act and stories that were enjoyable, is becoming available on the “new” networks like RetroTV, MeTV etc. A number of these networks are available through digital sub-channels from the major OTA broadcasters. I will speculate that there will be a second-wind for OTA TV due to these networks. It wouldn’t surprise me if, in the not too distant future, the new networks brought in more cash to the OTA stations than the “main” network offerings.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: OTA Second Wind

OTA is inferior, not just for the reasons that you correctly point out, but also because the quality of the video in OTA broadcasts (at least in the region I live in) has fallen to the point where it is very annoying to watch since the digital switchover happened. Broadcasters would have to do something about that, too.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 OTA Second Wind

Yes, the broadcast quality is determined by the broadcasters themselves by how heavily they compress the signal. The more they subdivide the channel, the heavier the compression needs to be. Apparently, all the broadcasters around here have decided to maximize the subchannels and sacrifice video quality.

Of course, this is based on seeing OTA when I’m at friend’s houses. I maintain households in two different cities, and in neither of them can I actually get any usable OTA signals at all since the digital switchover happened.

Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:

The Future of Broadcasting is in Space

Well, myself, I unplugged back in 1991. Or, more precisely, I moved across the country, and didn’t think it worthwhile to get cable service again.

I expect that satellite broadcasting will continue to overwhelm both local terrestrial broadcasting, and broadcasting through cable networks. There will be more satellites, controlled from other countries. Many of them will not require decoders, or pay royalties for the material they transmit. They will be pirate satellites, in short. Satellite dish antennas will be replaced by phased-array antennas, with an angular resolution of a degree or so, allowing a very large number of satellites to fit overhead. Such antennae will become obligatory, as foreign satellites move to within five degrees or so of American satellites. The United States Government did not ask the Soviet Russian government whether it wanted Russians to be able to listen to Voice of America radio, and I anticipate that foreigners will return the compliment. The comparative advantage of terrestrial broadcasting over satellite broadcasting is local programming, only there isn’t very much local programming, and what there is, isn’t very good. I think that American satellite broadcasters will be forced to conform to the terms set by their foreign counterparts, and their transmissions will no longer require decoders either. I further anticipate that television audiences will use digital video recorders (DVR’s)– under their own control, and not that of the broadcast networks– to build up large personal video libraries at negligible expense. Both Comcast and Netflix will find it very difficult to compete with this flood of material.

The beauty of space is that it is a legal no-man’s land.

Once the illusion of video wealth is punctured, ComCast and AT&T will begin following the real money. The real money is in food, whether in the form of groceries or in the form of pizza. Unlike durable goods, food doesn’t stay bought. It gets consumed. The internet battles of the near future will not be fought over large quantities of data. They will be fought over shopping lists of a thousand bytes or so.

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