The Streaming Surge: Cable TV Faces Crisis as Original Shows Migrate

In a seismic shift for the television landscape, cable TV is experiencing a significant decline in original programming as streaming services dominate the entertainment scene.

Headlined by platforms like Disney+, Netflix, and Amazon Prime, the allure of exclusive content and lucrative subscription models has drawn both money and talent away from traditional cable networks.

The most talked-about and buzzworthy shows of recent times, including “The Mandalorian,” “Squid Game,” and “The Boys,” have one commonality – they’re absent from cable television.

The Streaming Surge: Cable TV Faces Crisis as Original Shows Migrate

Streaming giants have invested billions in captivating programming to entice subscribers, leaving cable networks scrambling for resources.

The result? A landscape characterized by fewer original shows and an influx of re-runs and cost-effective content.

Described as “zombie versions of their former selves” by The New York Times, cable channels like USA Network are grappling with a decline in new scripted shows.

USA Network, a glaring example, witnessed a drop in scripted programming as its older show, “Suits,” found success on streaming platforms like Peacock and Netflix.

The emergence of so-called “zombie networks” is a consequence of media companies redirecting their efforts towards building expansive libraries for their streaming services.

This trend, which gained momentum during the pandemic, saw companies pay top dollar for content to captivate audiences stuck at home.

However, the aftermath includes substantial losses for platforms like Disney+, Peacock, and Paramount+, prompting cost-cutting measures and subscription fee hikes.

While some cable channels, including USA Network, have shifted their programming mix towards sports, the landscape is changing.

Streaming services are securing major sports rights deals, from MLS to NASCAR and the NFL, further challenging cable’s traditional stronghold on live sports as a saving grace.

This dynamic creates a cycle that accelerates cord-cutting. The lack of original scripted programming on cable diminishes its appeal, contributing to a declining number of households with cable subscriptions.

Research firm GlobalData predicts that only 42% of U.S. households will have a pay TV account this year, a stark contrast to the 85% mark in 2010.

The Streaming Surge: Cable TV Faces Crisis as Original Shows Migrate

This decline leaves cable channels vulnerable. Precedents set by deals like Charter Communications dropping underperforming channels suggest that over 30 cable channels could face closure.

Stripping channels of original programming further weakens their position in an increasingly competitive landscape.

While cable TV struggles, there are exceptions. Hits like “Yellowstone” on Paramount Network and ongoing franchises like AMC’s “The Walking Dead” and Bravo’s reality shows showcase that success is still possible on cable.

However, these instances stand out as the industry undergoes a profound transformation, with the majority of the buzz migrating to streaming services.

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