By Dennis D. McDonald
My son and his girlfriend came over for dinner Sunday night. They sat down with us in our living room while the TV was tuned to the local “news.” What we saw was one political attack ad after another concerning the upcoming U.S. Senate and Northern Virginia congressional elections.
“Wow,” he said, “I haven’t seen any of these. This is awful!”
I’ve learned to tune out the commercials. I made up my mind months ago about my voting preferences. The commercials themselves were mostly heartfelt half-truths, ominous music, and quotes out of context — and those are the ones for candidates I support or have even donated money to!
But my son is a Cord-Never. He doesn’t have cable TV. He rarely if ever watches broadcast TV using the spare antenna I gave him when he bought a fixer-upper house in Northeast DC a couple of years ago. He has an Apple TV, an Internet connection, Netflix, and he subscribes to the Washington Post paper electronic editions. But no cable TV, hence his lack of exposure to political ads.
I rather envy his “cord never” status. Internet gives him just about everything he needs streamed to his smartphone, tablet computer, notebook computers, or to his large screen HDTV. He’s a Comcast Internet subscriber, as am I. (Even though he lives in DC and I in Alexandria Virginia, we share similar brief interruptions in Comcast Internet connectivity throughout the day, but that’s another story.)
Will he ever start subscribing to cable TV? I doubt it. The circles he travels in are composed of Cord-Nevers like him. They get their news and entertainment from a variety of other sources. I certainly can’t see him watching network evening news given all the commercials targeting aging baby boomers like me and his mom.
This doesn’t mean he’ll end up spending less for streaming content. Cable companies see the writing on the wall. I figure their continued ability to ratchet up internet fees while cable subscriptions plateau are why they are so eager to maintain monopoly control over broadband Internet access. That way they can continue extracting money from Cord-Nevers.
This all assumes that disruptions don’t come along to break the stranglehold that the cable and TV monopolies have over streaming content delivery. What form that disruption might take is hard to say — fiber, over the air, satellite, subscription YouTube channels? Maybe a return to physical media exchanged surreptitiously samizdat-style in back alleys? It’s hard to tell.
Copyright © 2014 by Dennis D. McDonald, Ph.D. Dennis is a project management consultant based in Alexandria, Virginia. His experience includes consulting company ownership and management, database publishing and data transformation, managing the integration of large systems, corporate technology strategy, social media adoption, statistical research, IT cost analysis, and open data programs. His web site is located at www.ddmcd.com and his email address is email@example.com. On Twitter he is @ddmcd. Occasionally he publishes book reviews and movie reviews.