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The Future of Cable TV

20th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards - Press Room
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Most people have no idea what it was like to grow up with maybe three television channels in the house. Rabbit ear antennas wrapped in tin foil or perhaps you were lucky enough to have a motorized antenna hooked securely to your chimney. Remote control? For what? Most of the time the TV was on Dad’s favorite channel.

500+ Channels

Cable Television has gone through many changes. ESPN and MTV were two of the early pioneers of specialty programing. In the early days of ESPN you might find yourself watching a high school badminton tournament. MTV changed the face of music and put a face on what was, up to that time, an audio medium. Along came National Geographic, the Food Channel, the Golf Channel, business channels and 24/7 news channels.

Your Space Age Disc

It was a big project to wire the entire country for cable. Many remote areas were left to the depressing over the air channels. Then along came the dish. Slap a dish on the side or your home and satellites would beam the latest programs right into you living room.

The competition and money became a major concern for cable operators. As networks grew in fan base the more money it cost the cable operator to carry those channels. Major League Baseball, the NFL, NASCAR, and NBA, all signed very lucrative contracts with cable providers to carry their games.

Tablets, Cell Phones, Computers

More and more people are turning away from cable networks to watch their favorite shows online. Netflix and others come into your home with downloadable music, TV shows, concerts and other events.

Cable Packages

There has been a lot of pressure on cable companies in recent years to provide a menu of programing and consumers could pick the channels they like rather than being forced to also buy programing that was of little or no interest to them.

Obviously this would sort of shortchange those viewers who really like obscure channels but would be too low in numbers to make it worthwhile for the cable company to supply those channels.

So there is a conundrum. Pay a little more but get only the channels you want. Or share the cost over a wide variety of viewers and pay for about 20 additional channels you’ll probably never watch.

Some Final Thoughts

Our electronic society is going through some major changes. The ways we communicate both today and down the road are going to be changing dramatically in the future. Eventually you will be able to project yourself into the shows you watch and be in the action of a police chase or your favorite sitcom.

As for me I favor the idea of just getting the channels I would watch most. Between the wife and I with our wide ranges of interest we’d probably end up with most of them. How about you? Do you like having more options so you can have a wide variety of choices? Or are you a one from column A and one from column B type viewer? It will be interesting see how it all plays out in the coming months.

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