The end of broadcast TV?

TV has been around your whole life. Depending on your age, your dad may have been watching TV in the waiting room while you were being born, or it may have been on in the background the day you came home for the first time. Now imagine a world without TV. Is it even possible?

A world totally without broadcast TV? It’s possible, but not likely. What’s much more possible is that the number of broadcasters will drop by 75-80% in the next 15 years. Broadcasting is an expensive business, and it’s likely that stations that are barely squeaking by today will opt to turn off their transmitters and go exclusively to pay-TV providers or to the internet.

We’ve seen more and more people rely on a combination of antennas and internet in the last few years… is that a bad choice? Not at all. It’s just that looking at the long-range picture, you know 15-20 years down the road you’ll be using much more internet and much less antenna. Even today it’s possible to stream Netflix or hulu from almost anywhere, and that trend will continue. We predict that today’s broadcasters will rely more and more on their live streaming feeds while relying less and less on broadcast feeds.

What about pay-TV? Pay-TV providers often pick up their feeds from antennas, but more and more stations are providing a fiber feed straight to the pay-TV company. In the future we expect that those dedicated fiber feeds won’t be necessary as secure internet lines will do the trick.

As for whether Pay-TV will survive when more and more people choose the internet for their primary entertainment, that really depends on the content providers. Content fees make up the majority of the costs paid by a pay-TV company, and as long as greedy content providers choose to raise rates by double or triple digits, the forecast looks pretty bleak. However, DIRECTV and others are negotiating aggressively to keep content providers in check.

There’s also the possibility that content providers will simply shut their doors on pay-TV opting instead to make deals with streaming services like hulu. That may be the reason that DIRECTV was said to be in talks with hulu… it may value those content provider contracts and see a deal with hulu as the only way to preserve them.

One way or another, it should be interesting.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 9,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.