Cutting the Cord

For decades’ television dominated American life as the main “medium” for which they received their everyday messages. Like television dethroned print as the most popular medium, television itself is being dethroned by streaming services such as Netflix and YouTube. Television took over as the main medium because it appealed strongly to children. Marshall McCluhan claims “Our children are striving to carry over to the printed page the all-involving sensory mandate of the TV image.” McCluhan also claims “print asks for the isolated and stripped-down visual faculty, not for the unified sensorium.”

YouTube and Netflix are the prime example of “mass media” in today’s society. For many of the younger generation YouTube serves not only as a means of entertainment and to watch cat videos, but also serves as their primary source of news and even television shows and sports. With the rise of YouTube, it is leading directly to the decline of television viewership and the grip of cable companies on American society. According to a study done by “2014, 8.2 percent of former pay TV subscribers surveyed by TiVo subsidiary Digitalsmiths said they ditched their service – an increase of 1.3 percent over the prior year. Meanwhile, a much larger 45.2 percent said they reduced their cable or satellite TV service during the same time frame.”

Millions of people are turning to YouTube and Netflix primarily as their medium to receive all their news and entertainment. Netflix has begun to develop their own original series, and some have become incredibly mainstream and popular that some subscribe just to watch one series. One such show is Orange is the New Black. Not only was Orange is the New Black a successful original series, it became a cultural phenomenon, even making its way into the New York Times as a native ad.

A popular phenomenon that YouTube gave rise to was vlogging. Vlogging gives viewers a snapshot on how someone lives, how they dress, how they do their make-up, how they spend their money etc. Vlogging channels such as Charles Trippy and ShayCarl have millions of subscribers and they all tune in to watch how these people and their families live.

YouTube gives viewers and creators something that isn’t afforded to television shows or movies, complete freedom. This freedom allows creator to showcase their own individual behaviors and styles of thinking without corporate or advertisement interference. On one hand, YouTube allows for organic growth of trends, but on the other the rise of YouTube has given way to corporations looking to get into the market and paying for sponsored content. One of the main reasons for cord-cutting is the prevalence of advertisements and with advertisements making their way onto YouTube many are beginning to rebel.

As a result of all these factors, television companies have begun to take drastic steps to compete. Dish has started offering a new service called “Sling TV” which offers an affordable streaming option for live television. One thing that Netflix, Hulu and YouTube can’t offer is live TV, so Dish is hoping that by making the option affordable people will stick with live tv.

Do you think television will one day be a streaming service with options available to have a normal box option? Sort of like the way flip-phones have to be special ordered and smart phones are the normal option.


McLuhan, Marshall. Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. Print.
“New Study Shows A Rise In Cord Cutting – 8.2 Percent Ditched Pay TV In 2014, Up 1.3% YoY.” TechCrunch. Web. 30 Sept. 2015.

9 thoughts on “Cutting the Cord

  1. This look into how streaming video services are taking over the traditional marketspace of television is excellent with the substantial support you have for these claims. The best thing that is coming out of this streaming video overtake is it is finally a medium that is pushing traditional television and its providers to make a competitive product and service package. With so many years without any real competition, their models have grown stale and they grew a high sense of arrogance about how they could take advantage of consumers with little financial repercussions. Now we are seeing them offer better services, more live events/premiers and a focus towards mobile viewing. Competition is what is keeping television still viable for some so I do not think it may go the way of the flip-phone but it may just become much like Blackberry or Nokia, just a struggling commodity of its former self trying to stage a comeback into relevance for many of its past consumers.


  2. When I was in my home country ‘Iraq’, I was able to watch any TV channel all over the world free. When I arrived to U.S, a friend informed me that I could not get my favorite channels free. He explained to me to buy even the air “he means dish or satellite”. Having TV is important in each house especially for the newcomers to help them to adjust to the new style of life. At the same time they need to have the international channels to keep in touch in what is going on in their countries, and to keep their children listen to the mother language. When I tried to get the international channels, I found each favorite show with different provider. So, I need to pay 2 or 3 provider to get our favorite show or to pay for a package from cable or satellite companies. That is why I think television one day will be a streaming service with options available to have a normal box option better than paying for two or more providers


  3. I think the economic implications will force change in the television industry. Mainstream television use to be the “only game in town” allowing it to almost function as a monopoly. Moving from the antenna to cable to satellite created some competition and allowed for varied programming and more channels; however, households were still limited by time and access. You-tube and other streaming options are competing with traditional television for advertisement dollars now, which is allowing for a shift in the market and inevitably, more options for consumers. So yes, I definitely think that streaming services will gain speed; yet, I do think there will be a lot of push and pull along the way (as you demonstrate with Dish’s efforts to stay in the game). I appreciate your insight and question in your post. Interestingly, when I first read your title, I was expecting your post to challenge the amount of screen time or time spent viewing the medium. Perhaps, we as a society are beyond that discussion since we carry our screens with us and we would have to count that time too.


    1. I think you added a major point with mentioning that corporates as well as advertising are shifting their money towards the “new” media too. There is an interesting article how much more effective money was spent towards e.g. YouTube in comparison and of course corporates rearrange towards that once they recognize it.
      “…The analyses revealed, for example, that TV ate up 85% of the budget in one new-product campaign, whereas YouTube ads—a 6% slice of the budget—were nearly twice as effective at prompting online searches that led to purchases. And search ads, at 4% of the company’s total advertising budget, generated 25% of sales. Armed with those rich findings and the latest predictive analytics, the company reallocated its ad dollars, realizing a 9% lift in sales without spending a penny more on advertising.” (Nicols, 2013) Therefore I guess that TV as we used to define it has to rearrange itself. In Germany we don’t have a provider like Netflix yet and companies which tried to establish something close are still to expensive. But even here you can realize how TV is competing with the opportunities of online streaming. To be honest what are the benefits of the regular TV besides having a main preference of channels which having a linear structured program you can adopt to.

      Nicols, W (2013). Advertising Analytics 2.0. Retrieved from:


  4. I definitely think all internet providers will be forced into offering streaming services as well as the traditional packages. Some providers do this through contracts with stations. ABC, for example, allows subscribers to certain cable companies to access shows online immediately after they air. By and large, I think streaming services are taking the cake because you can watch shows you want to see anytime with substantially less commercials. However, like you said, commercials are becoming more and more inundated with this services. Xfinitity’s streaming service, for example, actually has more commercials than you’d see traditionally on some of their more popular shows. There is something nice about being able to just channel surf and not have to look for something specific, and that’s one thing I miss about having cable – I myself never subscribed to cable since moving out on my own. Netflix is my cup of tea.


  5. Ahh streaming. If there is one you can do well on the internet is watch things that are illegally acquired, streaming websites like Netflix and Hulu, and You tube. As a matter of fact people have developed means of making money for videos they make on You tube even. Television itself I feel is kind of going out the door. Some cable companies are making it harder to watch your favorite channels unless you pay more. The simple solution people have came up with: watch it on the internet. Netflix and Hulu allow you watch shows that they stream for a simple fee and at the time when you want to watch them. It’s the exclusivity of television however that makes it so expensive because you are getting the service of new episodes right away whereas it takes Netflix and Hulu time to acquire the rights to those new episodes. Or, I suppose if you don’t really care about people watching what you do on the internet there are illegal streaming websites that people use all the time. Why? Because they are free.


  6. I think as consumers interest change, companies will change with it or fail. So, to answer your question, I believe they will start doing that,. There are a lot of cable and dish companies that can not complete with the Internet and the platforms that allow viewers to steam video. I think they are going to have to revamp their industry before that happens and that time and a lot of money. If these companies can offer options like flexible channel options and streaming options, they could pick up some subscribers. The problem is a lot of television networks charge cable companies an arm and a leg for rights. I remember a couple years ago AMC was dropped from a few cable companies for a while.


  7. My post was very similar to this and I am very happy to see that someone else has the same idea of the possibility that Television could be a dying medium. In my post, I used examples such as Netflix and Hulu. I completely forgot to include YouTube! It is such a huge part of the internet right now. People can watch news clips, highlights from their favorite sports teams, comedy, lifestyles and more. The main profit for YouTube is through advertising! Just think, if YouTube charged for a subscription I can’t imagine how profitable the site would be!


  8. Mainstreaming is taking over the world, remember Blockbuster Video or First Row Video, we had a video store in my hometown where we could get ice cream and rent a movie.I’m grateful for family video where you can rent a Blu ray or DVD and also get a pizza at Marco’s Pizza. When red box came around people stop going to video stores to get their DVDs and Blu ray and went to Walgreens or Giant Eagle and swipe your credit card for a dollar movie. It was a wonderful idea but it blew the competition out of the water. Will Redbox eventually become non existent because of the new wave of Netflix. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy Netflix, type in a title, pull up a movie watch the movie pay a monthly fee and I can watch it on my phone, my laptop or television. To answer your question do I feel the television will eventually be mainstreamed, YES. I hope with the new innovation I will still be able to watch the evening news.


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