Thursday, May 17, 2012

Could You Tube Replace Cable TV?

The competition for viewer eyeballs continues to ramp up. Programming is moving off TV and being watched across multiple platforms via IP streams.  And the long tail of broadband programming is growing, not just with user generated content, but with professionally produced, high quality, long form shows.

Both Hulu and Netflix have announced original programming to bypass linear TV and go  directly to the web.  You Tube has been busy building original channels that follow the classic cable niche model with web networks devoted to specific interests.  "Which is why the Food Network and Cooking Channel veteran has checked out of network TV to oversee the launch of YouTube's latest original content channel, HUNGRY. The channel, which goes live on July 2, is expected to feature a freewheeling blend of how-to and celebrity-driven food videos."

Cable, as well as broadcast, programmers have noticed a drop in aggregate viewership.  Viewers are spending more and more of the video watching time on the web.  While some of it may be shows that originally aired on TV and other views are still with viral UGC content, more time is being devoted to watch professionally produced web channels.  Should Scripps be worried that their Food Network viewership could fall as consumers move to these competing channels?  Is that enough motivation to make sure that cables's linear and on demand product is accessible off the set and on the web?  Or will costs of cable subscription hurt the authenticated, TV Everywhere model, as cord cutting shifts off cable subscription to web subscription?

As more professionally produced content with more known talent invade the web space, a shift of viewership seems inevitable.  For pioneers in the web video space, this could just be the next web "golden age".

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