Where Is Cable TV Going?

Where Cable Television Stands Today

Cable TV has reached incredibly deep saturation in the modern developed world. People from many different cultures and backgrounds enjoy daily cable viewing habits. Many commentators argue that the growth of cable has had a salutary effect on public discourse and democratic development. In the early years of television, viewers had very few programming choices. Today, cable users have plentiful choices that are multiplying rapidly.

In some quarters, television has long been a controversial medium. Some characters built careers making trumped-up claims about the supposed dangers TV held for children. The growth of cable intensified this controversy as moralizing public figures warned that all-day programming schedules sapped family values. In actual fact, a growing body of evidence shows that supervised television viewing is quite healthy for children. Cable television provides an enormous number of edifying educational programs for kids. The best of these programs ingeniously entertain while teaching math, science and reading. Responsible producers of children's television materially aid the development of the rising generation. Of course, parental guidance is critical for safe TV viewing. After all, some TV programs are appropriate for mature audiences only.

The Future Of Cable

Contrary to the arguments of vehement critics, cable channels routinely produce programs that are educational and edifying. Collectively, these programs help audiences achieve greater scientific literacy and environmental consciousness. Now that cable television access has reached critical mass, many are wondering about the future of cable. In the long term, the cable industry faces stiff competition from online streaming video networks. As of yet, however, streaming video represents a tiny percentage of the greater video market. Even as DVD sales slow dramatically, cable television maintains a dominating position in home video viewing.

At a bare minimum, cable television should maintain this dominance for the next five to ten years. Industry analysts agree that the war for the future of television will be long and grueling. Television manufacturers will need to work with service providers to answer the developing needs of the public. Increasingly, consumers expect more cross-communication between television sets, mobile phones and other devices.

To remain relevant with younger consumers, cable firms will likely integrate their services with video game consoles and social networks. Recently, a major console maker announced a new model that will feature support for live TV input. This device will allow people to watch cable channels, play games and browse the Internet in one convenient platform. This is just one of many possible ways that cable viewing will remain culturally relevant in the years to come. In the next few years, cable industry executives should take care not to alienate consumers by obstructing technological change. As they navigate this complex process, cable companies should learn from the example of the music industry. In the first decade of this century, music companies had a difficult time coping with changes in consumer listening habits. Rather than engaging with the digital realm, companies used heavy-handed tactics and showed an inability to evolve. As a result of these draconian measures, the industry experienced poor publicity and shrinking revenues. The cable industry will have to show great adaptability to avoid a similar fate.

Integrating Cable TV With Other Technologies

Forward-thinking cable providers are already tapping into the public's ongoing mania with smart phone apps. Currently, many cable viewers use apps to control their TV watching experiences. Though competition is healthy, overly heated conflicts between cable companies may limit the growth of technology integration. Realistically, television giants will need to work with competing corporations to promulgate exciting new interfaces and technologies.

Viewers Increasingly Demand More Choices

To cement their powerful share of the market, cable companies will have to focus on providing more channels and more quality programming. As traditional television networks lose relevance, viewers are gravitating towards specialized cable channels serving niche interests. It is impossible to perfectly predict the future of the cable viewing experience. However, one can safely argue that cable user interfaces will need greater speed and diversity. In past decades, consumers had far fewer media options. In those days, the cable industry could get away with sluggish, unimaginative interfaces. Today, consumers expect fast, intuitive access to their favorite programs.

If cable company stock prices are any indication, these powerful media corporations are well-positioned for success. With confident assurance, countless investors are betting on the continued health of this industry. The biggest cable providers boast market capitalizations well beyond $50 billion. These influential companies have more than enough resources to develop solutions in the face of evolving competition. While their current positions are secure, cable companies will need to stay nimble to deal with unpredictable challenges.