The following is a guest post.
The future of television is an uncertain one, and things have just got even more unclear. Recent figures are showing that 150,000 US citizens decided to cancel their pay-TV subscriptions and move to on-demand services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime last year. Meanwhile, companies providing pay-TV packages are reporting that subscriptions are down by around 25,000 compared to previous years. It continues to show a trend of people cutting the cord and moving away from traditional methods of TV distribution, instead embracing the new online model being driven by certain tech giants.
We are living at a time when digital technology is making everything ‘on-demand’. Online news provides breaking stories as soon as they happen, Spotify lets you listen to whatever music you want whenever you want it, and social media allows you to communicate with friends and family almost instantly. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that people are starting to expect the same thing from television. Why should you wait until a specified time for a programme that sounds entertaining when you could find something immediately online? Some providers have recognised this problem and have tried to meet customers halfway, such as HBO and their HBO Go service and the British TV giant Sky with Sky On Demand.
The appeal of on-demand television extends far beyond its ability to give customers content whenever they want it though. They can, within reason, choose exactly what they want as well. The power of content curation has passed from the supplier to the consumer. You are no longer forced to watch whatever Showtime, HBO or AMC chooses to show you on a particular day of the week. Instead, it is you who is in control. Some might argue that this provides a better value of money for customers as you are no longer being charged for a service that is showing content you aren’t always interested in watching.
However, the most attractive thing about on-demand is that they are providing their own entertainment as well as sourcing content from other providers. Netflix has its own exclusive shows in the form of the award winning House Of Cards and Orange Is The New Black. Amazon has followed suit with its comedy series’ Transparent and Alpha House. Yahoo’s upcoming service will do the same too.
So is it time for everyone to start cutting the cord? Well, not exactly. There are still a few major issues that prevent on-demand from being ideal. They still don’t broadcast live television events like sports, for instance, and it will be a surprise if providers strike deals with them any time soon. Furthermore, there are arguments that on-demand services are simply unsustainable as anything but an alternative to normal TV. If too many providers follow suit with their own unique content, customers cannot be expected to pay for all of them. Plenty of people already begrudge paying for more than or two services.
However, what the latest series of figures reveal is that on-demand is not just an alternative anymore. This is quickly becoming one of the most popular ways to watch your favourite television shows. And while the future of television may be uncertain, there is one thing we now know for sure: on-demand is going to play a major part.
Daniel Sarath is a writer who has published work on websites like Number Direct, Yahoo, Tech Cocktail and Business.com. He has written about everything from technology and entertainment to business and careers. Daniel is also a journalism graduate from the University of Central Lancashire.