Cablevision-ABC Standoff a Result of Shifting Audiences

The recent blackout of ABC’s programming in the New York area can be chalked up to audiences shifting from broadcast to the Internet — a shift that has been underway for several years. “As the broadcast networks are less able to get advertising revenue, they’re turning to the cable guys [to pay more to the networks to show their programming] to make up for that shortfall,” states Todd Mitchell, an analyst with Kaufman Brothers Lp, as quoted in a recent Newsday article. Ad dollars are in short supply because TV audiences have found other options for their time, especially growing Internet use.

A similar shift has hurt the print industry, record sales, DVD sales, and other businesses with physical products that could be delivered digitally. Consumers have shown they prefer entertainment, information, and connections to be digital. Even telecoms will have to face the fact that Internet telephony is the preferred option for many consumers, and TV programmers must eventually follow suit as well.

But in the meantime, according to the Newsday article, we can expect more of these inconveniences as yet another business, built on an outdated model, tries to defy reality and force its market to stand still. Do these companies believe they can continue holding customers hostage? Tactics always lag technology. Consumers, who vote with their dollars, will have the final say, which the iTunes store has already proven when it comes to digital goods.

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