Broadcast TV is like a horse, says Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, and “the horse was good until we had the car.”
“The car,” today, is non-linear digital TV, and Netflix’s chief executive says it will replace the old broadcast model within a few decades.
“The age of broadcast TV will probably last until 2030," Hastings said at a Netflix promotional event in Mexico City, as quoted by the Hollywood Reporter.
As streaming services like Netflix explode in popularity, many analysts say the writing is on the wall for broadcast TV.
Here in Canada, evidence of cord-cutting — cable and satellite subscribers ditching their TV services — is beginning to accumulate.
The most recent earnings reports from Rogers and Shaw showed them losing cable customers at a rate of nearly 200,000 per year.
Those two cable providers have joined forces to create their own Netflix-like streaming service, Shomi. Bell Canada, which provides satellite and digital TV, is working on its streaming service as well, Project Latte.
Netflix’s Hastings has been predicting doom for broadcast TV for some time.
"People love TV content and we watch over a billion hours a day of linear TV," Hastings wrote in 2013 as part of an 11-page manifesto on the future of TV.
"But people don't love the linear TV experience where channels present programs at particular times on non-portable screens with complicated remote controls."
Hastings predicted the demise of channel bundling, a common practice among cable carriers.
He also suggested TV channels would become apps on smart TVs. This is already happening, starting with HBO’s announcement that it will launch a standalone streaming service. It will allow viewers to watch HBO without ordering it through a cable company.
Hastings has had unkind words for Canada’s telecoms, arguing in the past that the monthly download limits put into place by internet service providers in recent years are holding back the development of Canada’s internet.
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