3 Threats to Cable TV in 2013

Cable TV providers may have a few stiff challenges on the horizon.

As the media landscape evolves at an ever-increasing pace, we’re keeping an eye on three trends that could have a significant impact on the cable television industry — as well as local media and retail markets — over the next 12 months.

1. Unbundling & Cord-Cutting

cable cutting and unbundlingMedia consumers are shopping differently today.

The “triple-play” bundles (internet, phone, TV) that have been sold to consumers recently are starting to fall out of favor, as the number of “cord cutters” increases. With more options to consider, many households are electing to unbundle their communications and content services, and seek alternative options. Decisions like these are affording more flexibility and value for households who have been looking for more of a cafeteria-style plan.

GM vehicles with hotspot

2. My New Car is a Hotspot?

Automakers are bringing the internet to the driveway.

GM is considering building wifi hotspots into new vehicles in the not-too-distant future. Auto dealers — who already have seen an increase in the number of bells and whistles on new feature-rich models — may soon be able to tell potential buyers they can replace their “internet bundle” at home just by driving the vehicle home. In a highly competitive market, it wouldn’t be a big surprise to see this feature show up on other automaker’s spec sheets down the road too.

3. Google Fiber’s Big Plans

austin texas google fiberThis time, the focus is on Austin, Texas.

Google has plans to expand its fiber network into Austin by the middle of 2014. This is big news for a couple of reasons. Austin is one of the country’s high-tech regions, and would likely embrace this effort. This move also demonstrates Google’s intent on challenging the stronghold of current internet and content providers in local markets. Consider Austin a test-market if you’d like, but it also could signal the beginning of the end for cable-as-we-know-it.


All three of these movements are happening already or in the works, with impacts to local markets occurring over the next 12-18 months. So stay tuned!

(And we didn’t even mention YouTube’s subscription push, which MediaPost forecasts as another potential cable TV landmine.)


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Dave Eckstein, ESA & Company | Real. Local. Results: 2012Dave Eckstein is a Partner in the firm ESA & Company. He specializes in highly profitable market share growth for local businesses and gets a kick out of demonstrating a declining cost of customer acquisition. He plays baseball, but isn't that Dave Eckstein.

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