Will The Future of Cable be TV Free?


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Cablevision CEO Sees Cord Cutting Future

Predicting that transmission of TV will move to the Internet eventually, Cablevision Systems Corp. CVC -0.76%Chief Executive James Dolan says "there could come a day" when his company stops offering television service, making broadband its primary offering.

His comments may be the first public acknowledgment by a cable CEO of the possibility of such a shift, long speculated about by analysts. It comes amid growing tensions between cable operators and channel owners over rising programming costs, highlighted Friday night when Time Warner Cable Inc. dropped CBS from its channel lineup TWC -0.37%in major markets such as New York and Los Angeles.

If cable operators drop TV service, charging only for broadband, channel owners would have to sell directly to the public or through Web outlets.

In a 90-minute interview on Friday, the usually media-shy 58-year-old executive also talked about his marriage, his relationship with his father Chuck and his after-hours role as a singer and songwriter. He said his rock band, JD & the Straight Shot, toured with the Eagles last month.

Mr. Dolan said that on the rare occasions he watches TV, it is often with his young children, who prefer to watch online video service Netflix, using Cablevision broadband.

He added that the cable-TV industry is in a "bubble" with its emphasis on packages of channels that people are required to pay for, predicting it will mature "badly" as young people opt to watch online video rather than pay for traditional TV services.

To ensure Cablevision is prepared for the future, he said, he is investing heavily in the company's network connectivity and overhauling operations to improve efficiencies.

If Cablevision does drop video service, "I don't want to be saddled with an infrastructure that is as big as the one that I have now," he said.

He was speaking at a point of intense uncertainty for the cable industry, which faces a wave of online competitors offering cheaper video options...

Mr. Dolan, who first started playing guitar at age 17, said he has learned a lot from watching the downfall of music companies that used to require consumers to buy albums of songs rather than letting them choose what they want. The lesson: If you don't "ride the wave" you "get eaten by the wave."
Read More: Future of Cable Might Not Include TV - WSJ.com

While CBS, FOX, and Disney may not get it, Mr. Dolan certainly does. Consumers aren't going to pay increasing rates for content they can get elsewhere, and there is no reason for cable companies to continue to provide an outmoded service few people still want when they can focus on a high margin service that is much more than video. Meanwhile, the broadcast networks would be wise to shift their focus back to broadcast distribution and the advertising model rather than killing the retransmission model through greed.


I think before cable becomes free we'll see free wifi almost everywhere. There's a hospital over the hill about a mile from here with wifi and I've been able to tap into their signal on a couple of rare occasions. With an outdoor mast mounted wifi antenna I may be able to pick them up all the time just as those living closer to the hospital can now. Seems more and more businesses are are adding free wifi so it may not be long before most will receive it free of charge.


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Not that cable TV will be free, but that cable will no longer offer traditional channel based TV. What James Dolan is looking at is dumping the TV (multichannel video) aspect of cable and simply providing a competitive internet service. Will the future of cable (not cable tv, but the cable delivery service) be TV free? (i.e. without multichannel video service)
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