Ball State: Digital generation torching cable TV

Those oft-vilified cable television companies may be getting their comeuppance, thanks in part to the habits of youngsters born in the digital generation.

Ball State University’s Digital Policy Institute said there’s more behind the shrinkage in customers that cable TV companies have experienced than just a downturn in the economy.

A recent study by the Associated Press found that eight of the nine-largest subscription TV providers collectively lost 195,700 customers from April to June.

“It also may be attributed to the changing habits of the digital native generation, born in the 1980s or later, that is less attached to appointment television,” said Dom Caristi, a telecommunications professor and member of DPI.

Instead of watching shows when they’re first aired, this new generation is “more accustomed to on-demand video of the sort provided by Web video.”

Cable TV might even be described as a transitional technology, according to Barry Umansky, another member of the university’s digital institute, who is serving on a consumer committee providing data to the Federal Communications Commission.

Fortunately for cable operators, subscribers aren’t always cutting the cable entirely—keeping their Internet connection to access Netflix, YouTube and other online video sources.

“Since the same company is usually providing both the Internet connection and the cable connection, it doesn’t mean cutting the cord as much as it means paying for only part of it,” Umansky said.

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