Is Cable Dying?

Mark Enriquez, Staff Writer

Digital entertainment has been a staple of the media that most students, or anybody surrounded by technology, consume almost daily. It’s common for households to have an active subscription to cable, dish, or satellite television.

But most students don’t watch cable television, except to watch sports or maybe put on the morning news. Even so, having a cable subscription to watch the news is a bit of a stretch because students can view their news sources online or through social media.

According to Statista, a German-based repository for consumer data, most people in 2020 who engaged in cable television news were aged 55 and up, and about 42% of younger audiences (ages 18-29) don’t watch cable news at all.

“My dad watches television with me on the ESPN channel,” junior Munir Abdella said. “I don’t watch T.V outside of sports.”

In general, students watch their shows by streaming them online through services such as Netflix or Disney+. Televised media nowadays, if watched at all, are mostly consumed by older audiences and students’ parents.

“My family has Xfinity,” junior Brandon Yanoska said. “My family is [also] subscribed to Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+. We watch streamed content way more than cable.”

Convenience is a big factor for audience retainment in either television or streaming devices. Streaming services are more flexible in how consumers want to view movies and T.V shows they want to watch. Cable channels have a set time for how they air titles and games, and the only way to see them once they’ve passed is to record them on the DVR beforehand.

“I prefer streamed content because it makes it much easier to pause or rewind whatever I’m watching,” said Yanoska. “I also like not having as many commercials or no commercials at all, rather than cable which is filled with them. I also enjoy it because I can watch whatever I want whenever I want.”

A T.V, often situated in family living rooms, has to account for everybody’s interests when watching entertainment shows. In contrast, streaming services have the privilege of being accessible on mobile devices and laptops which are more personal and can be tailored to the individual’s preferences for their shows.

“On television, you can watch shows with your family,” said Abdella. “But on Netflix, there’s a lot of teenage drama shows I like to watch since Netflix has original series, which are more entertaining.”

Often, people find themselves considering the value of a full-on cable subscription. Popular cable providers like Comcast will offer “packages” of upwards of 100 channels including news, entertainment, music, and even foreign entertainment channels. The channels you want to watch might be bundled with other unnecessary channels that you didn’t have an interest in in the first place and only add to the cost, which is why many students are seeking alternative options in streamed content.

“I think cable has become much and much less popular and [that] streaming services will overtake cable,” Yanoska said. “There are now so many alternatives to cable. I think it will soon be a thing of the past.”