Flipping the channel on TV

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Nebai Hernandez ’16

Today’s television consumers increasingly opt to watch shows on Internet streaming sites rather than tune in to live TV. The rising popularity of these sites sets the stage for competition with cable companies around the globe.
Online platforms, including Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu Plus, add realtime streaming options and introduce quality original series. Netflix’s acclaimed original series Orange is the New Black and House of Cards have already published their second seasons, while Amazon Prime and Hulu are debuting their own called Creative Galaxy and Deadbeats, respectively. The growing popularity of online shows both broadens viewer options and alters the very nature of how TV is perceived, according to huffingtonpost.com.
Television network HBO recently launched an online platform, HBO GO, which allows viewers to stream many of its signature shows, such as Game of Thrones. Despite this change, Ms. Susannah Vasu, former HBO employee and daughter of Convent of the Sacred Heart English teacher Mrs. Linda Vasu, believes that HBO‘s online project will not detract from its cable channel.
I see digital platforms as an enhancement, not a threat,” Ms. Vasu said. “It’s really just another way of expanding reach, that’s all. And another way of making their services more mobile.”
CBS also boarded the online streaming trend with the creation of its own platform, CBSN. The digital news network is the first to offer 24/7 online news catering to changing markets.
“CBSN is an important example of how CBS is able to leverage the unique strengths, talent and competitive advantages of its businesses to create exciting, highly competitive new services that meet evolving audience preferences for content consumption,” CBS President and CEO Leslie Moonves said according to thewrap.com
Despite the benefits of online television, there are some aspects streaming services cannot offer.
 
“While streaming services are more cost efficient, they don’t offer all the services of traditional cable,” Ms. Vasu said. “These streaming services, in most households and generally speaking, are seen as an addition to consumers’ cable services, rather than an alternative. Most people I know have cable bundles plus Netflix, for example.”
 

Nebai Hernandez '16
Nebai Hernandez ’16

Nevertheless, some popular channels like Disney Channel, Fox News, Discovery Channel, and ESPN that lack extensive online streaming services are falling behind. The majority of TV subscribers are not abandoning cable altogether, but are opting for access to basic television channels along with a mix of popular Internet platforms. In 2014 alone, CNN, ESPN and USA lost approximately 3.2 million subscribers because of their exclusion from basic cable packagesaccording to wallstreetjournal.com
Some concerned companies, however, have been taking competitive steps to keep cable on the map. AT&T, for example, is marketing a new plan called the U-Verse package. This will include a small number of channels in conjunction with Amazon Prime for $39.oo a month in an effort to keep TV subscribers according to TIME.  
One of cable television companies’ concerns is that younger generations may be less attached to cable TV and more satisfied with online streaming methods. Yet, Ms. Vasu believes that new generations will actually crave more traditional forms of media consumption.
“To watch my current shows, which include Sleepy HollowSupernaturalCriminal Minds, and more, I usually go online. I will go to the website of ABC, FOX, CWTV or whatever channels the show is on and watch the episode on there,” junior Tess Driscoll said. However, I do still watch cable TV for certain shows like The Walking Dead.”
As TV changes due to shifting viewer expectations and a growing entertainment market, how the industry adapts will set the precedent for media consumption in the future.
“I also think that new generations, because they’re growing up in a digitally and socially-driven world, will want less of that and more of the traditional ways of interacting with people and consuming media,” Ms. Vasu said.
– Nebai Hernandez, Staff Writer