Will Streaming Kill Network Television?

If you really put your mind to it and dug in, you'd likely find hundreds of streaming services [...]

If you really put your mind to it and dug in, you'd likely find hundreds of streaming services available or whatever devices you have laying about your abode. Sure, they'll not all Netflix — nor are they Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, or even the Shutters or Tubis of the world. But they're each a different way to consume content, one that totally circumnavigates any sort of cable subscription. If you have an internet connection and some sort of device, you can access hours upon hours of content. But you already know that.

By the time Peacock comes out, virtually every player in Hollywood will have their own streaming service. The media conglomerates that own movie studios and dozens of networks and channels each now have their own OTT service, another product offering they can throw at consumers in a digital age. This isn't the first time the question's been asked, but we've got to ask it anyway — is the world of streaming going to kill network television?

When that question is posed, it's not meant to ask whether streaming will reduce subscriber numbers or tank ratings of network shows. It's already done that, and did so years ago. When that's asked, it means — is there an actual chance that streaming will throttle network television so much, to the point it actually ceases to exist?

The shortest answer to the question — no.

Despite the entire corporate world placing its collective focus on the world of streaming, there will likely always be a handful of networks to be there, still serving up content to the masses with cable subscriptions or accessing the networks over the air.

We all knowe people are still cutting the cable at an alarming rate. A 2018 study by Observer says subscribers are ditching DirecTV, Dish, and other cable providers at a record rate; but that's a given At the time, even though it was just two years ago, there were already substantially less providers in the marketplace. There wasn't Disney+, HBO Max or Peacock weren't close to coming out. Nobody even knew what the hell a Quibi was. It was much more afforadble to sign up for the heavy hitters then than it is now. Now, services are growing more than ever have in the age of economic shutdowns and coronavirus quarantines.

"But Adam, you just said streaming wasn't going to kill television!"

I did, and I still mean it, because no matter how rapid streaming grows, it will eventually grow old. There will always be turnover — new services will be released while others cease to exist. It's the circle of life, the circle of media.

Despite streaming and television being similar, they're still technically different mediums — no? Video didn't kill radio; radio didn't kill newsprint. All these years later, people still read the New York Times or the weekly circular in rural America. People still listen to the radio and there still happens to be plenty of major syndicated radio shows now, in the year 2020.

Maybe they don't want to subscribe to half a dozen services to get a wide assortment of properties. Maybe they're stuck in their stubborn ways. But people will always be there to watch network television, streaming wars be damned.

Cover photo by SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images