Is Legacy TV Dead?
Since Netflix (NFLX) launched its streaming service in the mid-2000s, the way we watch TV has rapidly evolved. As more Americans embrace streaming services and the flexibility to watch what they want, when they want, legacy TV has been in decline. It begs the question of how much longer it can limp along.
It’s a question that impacts not only viewers, but entire industries. Insiders are often asked to weigh in on what the future holds for linear TV, or the legacy format of a predetermined broadcast schedule with commercial breaks as opposed to on-demand viewing.
Here are a few of the key players’ thoughts on how programming is currently being consumed – and will be in the future.
Contention and Consensus
Opinions differ within and across entertainment sectors.
Kevin Mayer, co-CEO of next-gen media company Candle Media, believes linear TV is “in its final death throes,” citing the decline of scripted content on legacy TV, much of which has already migrated to streaming. Meanwhile, Warner Bros Discovery (WBD) lead Kathleen Finch is optimistic that it will remain a healthy business in the long run.
But there is a consensus on what might keep TV alive: sports and news. Due to existing contracts and appeal of real-time viewing, these may well prove to be linear TV’s lifeline.
This view is supported by both those involved in legacy TV, like former CNN president Jeff Zucker, and those competing with it, like current Netflix content chief Bela Bajaria. Of course, sports and news have already cross-pollinated with the streaming industry, with the likes of Amazon Prime (AMZN) and Peacock (CMCSA) airing NFL games.
Regardless of the individual takes, it’s clear the industry’s evolution will change how Americans access content.
While the look of linear TV shifts, the streaming market will likely also continue to evolve.
Insiders expect giants like Netflix, Amazon, and Disney (DIS) to remain the key players, while Alphabet’s YouTube (GOOGL), Amazon, and Apple (AAPL) are favored to be the primary hubs to access streaming. Many also note the potential for further consolidation in the market, with Paramount+ (PARA) and Peacock posited as candidates.
Finally, many mention the potential for a more intuitive consumer experience as AI becomes integrated into the industry. But for now, this uncertainty is far from a bad thing for consumers. It simply means more options.
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