Netflix (by flickr user Jenny Cestnik,

The end of cable networks

Netflix (by flickr user Jenny Cestnik,
Netflix (by flickr user Jenny Cestnik,

For those of us that grew up in the heady days of the 80’s, we never would have thought that this day was coming.  Yet, here we are, looking at the biggest change to come to entertainment since cable itself.  That would be the realm of on demand entertainment through Netflix, Amazon and Hulu among others.

But how did we get to this point?  While I think that technology always has a role to play with things like this, I think there is yet another reason why we have ended up here.

Think back to the days when new cable networks were being started.  Things like CNN Headline News, where news would happen all day long, with newscasts available every half an hour.  The Weather Channel had a huge following, with local weather available every 10 minutes on the 8’s.  Nickelodeon needed something to do with their late night hours, which begat the creation of Nick at Night and rerun TV.  That led to the creation of TV Land, where you could see classic TV anytime you wanted.  Other things like AMC came around where you could see classic movies at any time you felt like.

And on it went.  New channels came along and were dedicated to things like Country music, learning, the arts and so forth.  We all had a place where we could go for whatever we liked.  And the world was a happier place.

Then, some of these channels got the idea that they needed to get more viewers.  TV Land developed their own shows.  The Weather Channel gave up on forecasters 24/7 and instead had weather related reality shows that people could tune in for.  AMC developed their own shows.  And country music’s specialty channel, became a specialty channel for men, jettisoning country music entirely.

Now, those of us that wanted classic television had to go looking for it on our own.  Anyone that was interested in classic movies had to go to the store and buy it on VHS or DVD.  We began to see things were not coming to us like we wanted them.

Then, technology had the answer.  What if we created a service that would feed you television and movies when you wanted it?  Never again would you need to wait until Thursday night to catch your favorite show.  The binge watch was born and more and more people decided that they really didn’t need to have cable around anymore.  Why would you when none of the networks had anything you wanted when you wanted it?  Why would you when the cable companies themselves insisted on giving you less and charging you even more?

What is a cable network to do?

We have seen the answer in HBO, Starz and so many others investing in a direct to consumer service that will let them watch what they want when they want it.  Give it time and we will even see ESPN bring this kind of service to people.

At the root of all of this is an age old concept that really needs to be reborn, not only in entertainment, but in every business that exists and that is Customer Service.  Imagine being in business to actually serve customers and give them what they want.  What would that look like?  So many in business these days need to learn from what the streaming services are doing so well.  They serve all of us with exactly what we want. and when we want it.

Customer service returning to us?  Oh let it be so.