Timothy M. Denton

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The transformation continues

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A couple of shallow and obvious data points: people continue to exit the regulated broadcasting universe, yet at the same time there has never been so much money poured into scripted television. Or should I say "television", in the same ironic way we still "dial" a telephone?

Variety reports from a US data firm that:

American consumers are cancelling traditional pay-TV service at a much faster rate than previously expected, according to research firm eMarketer.

In 2017, 22.2 million U.S. adults will cut the cord on cable, satellite or telco TV service — up 33% over 2016 — the researcher now predicts. That’s significantly higher than eMarketer’s prior estimate of 15.4 million cord-cutters for this year. Meanwhile, the number of “cord-nevers” (consumers who have never subscribed to pay TV) will rise 5.8% this year, to 34.4 million.

By 2021, the number of cord-cutters will nearly equal the number of people who have never had pay TV — a total of 81 million U.S. adults. That means around 30% of American adults won’t have traditional pay TV at that point, per eMarketer’s revised forecast.

 

 

The next day the Guardian carried an article on the gigoon amounts of money that Google and other tech giants are pouring into scripted television.

 

Apple has budgeted $1bn for original content and is reportedly eying the studio where Gone with the Wind was shot.

Netflix and Hulu are vying for awards glory this weekend respectively with Stranger Things and The Handmaid’s Tale after one of the most intense marketing campaigns in Emmy history.

YouTube is ramping up production of original shows and films with budgets and ambitions a world removed from kitten videos.

Facebook is waving a billion-dollar checkbook and may splurge up to $4m an episode on new programming, with Snapchat possibly not far behind.

Traditional broadcast and cable networks, giants which for decades shaped popular culture, are scrambling to keep up.

 

After another evening glued to the TV set (another obsolescent term), I said to my wife, "we really need to watch more television." I mean it; there is so much good stuff available. None of it is "broadcast" over regulated "channels".

This is not convergence, as some misunderstand the term. This is the melting of previously distinct media silos into the Internet. Anyone who speaks of "convergence" of broadcasting and telecom is pursuing a hopeless cause and is prisoner of a misleading metaphor. The entire broadcasting sector is like an ice cube in a drink on a hot summer's day. Let it go, and adapt.

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Timothy Denton is a lawyer by training who practices principally in telecommunications and Internet policy and domain name issues, with a strong concentration on explaining what the technology is and what it means.

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Guest Tuesday, 17 October 2017
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