RealClearPolitics Media Watch

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Are Cable and Satellite TV Going the Way of Newspapers?

I've beat on and defended newspapers enough in this corner of the Real Clear universe over the past week -- even though I am painfully aware that some of you would be only too happy if the lashings continued.

But let's end the week by taking a quick look at the lickings cable TV and satellite companies are taking from the burgeoning traffic online. is out with an eye-opening story today that reports one out of eight cable, pay-TV and satellite subscribers are expected to either eliminate or cut back their services this year.

The story gleaned its information from a just-released study by the Yankee Group.

The offering cites the increasing costs of cable and satellite subscriptions, and the availability of cheap streaming video of movies and television programming on the world wide web as the major reasons for people's exodus from what had become conventional viewing platforms for most of us over the past few decades.

Of course when you throw in the dodgy economy, it makes perfect sense that people are looking at all manner of ways to find grocery money.

Even though I am a self-acknowledged technological dinosaur, and ardent defender of many things old, I am having no problem whatsoever swallowing the findings in the Yankee Group's report.

I was but a teenager back in the early '70s when cable TV first started making its way into people's neighborhoods. We were among the first to get it on our block, and it opened up a whole new world to a youngster who thought it magic to have 15-or-so viewing options.

And to see the great New York Knicks teams of old play live at Madison Square Garden by just pushing a button on the boxy remote?! Wow, might as well have been a dream come true.

My parents were dubious cable would make it in the long run, but I had no doubt. After all, who didn't want more after that wonderful first kiss?

It took no time for cable to become a hit, and, boy, did we got more ...

These days, if your cable or satellite subscriber doesn't offer a menu with at least 15 options to receive the hundreds of available channels out there, they might as well be rubbing two sticks together to get a fire going for dinner.

But now many years later there's somebody new on the block, and if you think this stampede toward programming on the web is just some fad, consider the quote at the end of CNN's story from Vince Vittore, the author of the Yankee Group study.

"Just like with telephone land lines, it's going to become hard to sell pay TV to anyone under 30," Vittore said.

Now where have we heard something similar to that before when applied to another media platform?

Have a good weekend.

(Got a tip, a gripe, or some kudos? Send 'em along.)