The New York Times describes Charter Communications' $55 billion bid for Time Warner Cable as the result of "a tectonic shift in how Americans watch and pay for television." How tectonic is it? Recent surveys document two interconnected trends:
- More and more television is being viewed on computers, smartphones, and other devices.
- At the same time, there's an upsurge in the amount of television that's streamed rather than watched live.
For large numbers of viewers, what we now call television is becoming uncoupled from the TV screen, from the TV schedule, and from conventional TV providers like cable and satellite. The implications are huge. Network programmers will find their once all-important scheduling function becoming increasingly obsolete. And cable and phone companies will find their Internet business outpacing their TV bundles both in importance and profitability.