The Nielsen Company announced that the estimated number of TV households will drop for the first time in 20 years from 115.9 million (98.9%) to 114.7 million (96.7%) in 2012.
The 1.2 million drop in numbers is largely due to many households cutting the cable cord in favor of non-traditional media streamed across the internet from iTunes, Netflix, Boxee, Hulu, YouTube and many others. In addition to the growing list of digital media comes the ever growing list of new media devices such as iPads and tablets, iPhones and other smart phones, Digital Media Players like Apple TV and Amplifiers, Receivers and Game consoles all with internet connectivity.
It this the end of the TV era as we know it? Many industry experts believe 2012 will be the turning point from regular broadcast TV to unscheduled, open platform, streaming digital media and TV.
For decades TV was the sole entertainment and video media platform and the thing we did to occupy idle time and entertain ourselves. In today’s digital age we’re always connected and carry handheld and portable devices with us wherever we go. TV or video media is no longer restricted to the living room, kitchen or bedroom and with the advent of PVR’s, Streaming Video and Video on Demand – television schedules are also a thing of the past. In the digital age entertainment media has largely become interactive, even the traditional broadcast news recognizes this and has incorporated i-Report’s and What do you think opinion segments in it’s regular TV news broadcast. With facebook, twitter, youtube, blogging, streaming media services and digital media players it’s no wonder traditional television viewing continues to decline as well as the number of viewing households – it’s just a sign of the times.
Note: The chief factors slowing down the transition to new digital media are cost and bandwidth. Cable companies and ISP’s in North America have placed caps on internet usage partly due to bandwidth restrictions and partly due to declining revenue streams from cable subscriptions. Cable companies realize that the two medias are inversely related and therefore they have adopted pricing plans to insure their on going revenue stream is protected no matter which method of media consumption consumers choose. As bandwidth continues to expand digital media consumption will continue to grow while traditional media will decline. According to Moores Law, eventually bandwidth will expand to a point where capacity won’t be an issue however Don’t expect internet rates to decline when that day comes, in fact, odds are internet rates will increase relative to consumption and not bandwidth as cable companies and ISP’s continue to adjust their internet service pricing to reflect the decline in traditional cable and Broadcast TV revenues.