A new report estimates that some 800,000 American households now watch TV only via the Web
, as the move to abandon cable, satellite or OTA broadcasts starts to gather pace. This represents a small percentage of the pay TV industry's 101 million subscribers, but the number is expected to double by the end of next year. These are the earliest adopters, though, and they account for just 3 percent of all full-episode online television viewing -- meaning that plenty of people are already supplanting their standard TV viewing with online episodes. It's clear already (and has been for some time) that TV viewers are undertaking a fundamental change in how they want to access and view content. The combination of the Web and DVRs allowing on-demand viewing has made the linear TV channel something of an outdated concept, and at some point, TV providers will need to realize that on-demand shows are now how a growing number of people want to receive their programming.
Cable companies, for one, recognize this to a certain extent, so they've responded with TV Everywhere, a plan to offer programming online. But that plan is doomed to failure
because it's being implemented in the hamfisted way you might expect from cable companies, and is set up simply to force people to keep paying for cable if they want to watch shows online. If the plan to capitalize on online viewers is first to force them to keep paying for something they don't want, then by further embracing the "features" of current systems that drive users away
, it's hard to see TV companies having a whole lot of success. The key is not to shoehorn the cable model onto the web, but to embrace the positive features enabled by the web and apply them to the rest of their business.