by Jeremy Toeman
As the phenomenon of predicting the death of TV via cord cutters is waning, it’s being replaced by a plausible (at first) sounding theory: cord nevers. Whereas a cord cutter is one who cancels their Pay-TV service for free/streaming alternatives, a cord never is, roughly, a person under the age of 22 who, upon renting their first apartment after college, never subscribes for TV services in the first place. My theory at this point is these people may live happily cable-free for a year or few, but sooner or later, they’ll pay. Here’s a few reasons why:
The single most common binding element pulling modern culture together today is TV, and I can’t see anything replacing that in the short term. As someone nearing the end of their first year watching entirely “catch up” I’ve noticed, multiple times, the feeling of being left out of some conversations. By the way, I’d like to keep this post and ensuing discussion free from judgment regarding watching decisions – I don’t care what the show is, everyone’s free to be entertained however they’d like. But I currently have no idea what exactly a Honey Boo Boo is, nor what the Amish Mafia are after, and I have literally zero friends who just finished Season 4 of The Wire like I just did (btw – awesome). I believe the natural gravitas of “fitting in” will drive most people toward paying.
Cheapest Entertainment Around
Estimates vary, but for a typical 4+ hours/day home, watching TV with a pay-TV provider works out to about $0.25/hour. People love to complain about their cable bill, but they really wouldn’t if they did the math. (not that I’m advocating any provider, I’m just not dissing on them either). Then again, math is hard.
While it’s certainly simple enough to browse Netflix on my Apple TV, find a show, then watch it, it’s nowhere near as simple as turning on the TV, then pushing “channel up” enough times until something watchable appears. As I’ve blogged about elsewhere, I fundamentally believe in the “escapism” nature of TV watching, which makes an all-on-demand lifestyle a lot of work.
More Money, Less Time
It’s easy to talk about “those kids today” and their willingness to watch movies in 10 minute increments on YouTube. Yeah, I remember college too – I had loads of free time, no money. Now I have no time, and while I don’t have loads of money, I can easily do the mental math to figure out the money value of time makes hunting around websites and menus not a good use of time.
TV, now with Free Internets!
As the pay-TV industry has morphed into MVPDs (“multichannel video programming distributor” – worst rename ever!) and offer Internet and voice and home automation and monitoring and security and dishwashing and laundry and other services (mostly for sheer profit – other than the laundry part), the allocation of revenue is less relevant for them. They can offer quintuple packages and more because it doesn’t really cost them anything, and most have invested so much money into capital expansion that they can continue to lay out new value added services for incremental costs. So perhaps we’ll eventually pay for TV, with free everything else – or vice versa – it just won’t matter that much.
While I do fundamentally believe we are in the middle of the most transformative era of television behaviors since the advent of the cable industry, I also think we are far from a radical new world. Looking forward to constructive comments and feedback below.Related Posts: