TV is Dying And WiFi maybe to Blame


Business Insider says that TV is a dying business. It's the same thing many people have said for years, except Business Insider says they have the facts to prove it.

And you might be surprised to hear that free WiFi is helping kill it. 

They write that TV business is having its worst year ever.

Audience ratings have collapsed: Aside from a brief respite during the Olympics, there has been only negative ratings growth on broadcast and cable TV since September 2011, according to Citi Research.

Broadband internet was supposed to benefit from the end of cable TV, but it hasn't.

In all, about 5 million people ended their cable and broadband subs between the beginning of 2010 and the end of this year.

This is the macro problem: Ratings are falling across the board. They have been for years.

It's not too surprising that broadcast TV ratings are down. The major networks have faced increasing competition for years from niche-interest cable channels and the better-quality programming on places like AMC and HBO.

But ratings for both cable and the broadcast networks are down.

So why are ratings in decline?

We're at the beginning of a major historical shift from watching TV to watching video — including TV shows and movies — on the internet or on mobile devices.

This is going to hurt cable TV providers.

Even though iPhone and Android phones still struggle to show video seamlessly, the amount of video seen on mobile devices is going through the roof. About 40% of all YouTube traffic comes from mobile.

So if fewer people are watching cable TV and fewer people are paying for Internet service, does that mean that we just don't care about watching our favorite shows anymore?

Not necessarily. 

Free wifi — at work, in coffee shops, and on campuses — is making it easier for consumers to get the shows, movies and videos they want without subscribing to any kind of cable or broadband service

All of Starbucks offers free wifi, for instance.

Fifty-seven cities in the U.S., including Los Angeles, offer free wifi. Facebook and Cisco have joined to offer free wifi access to customers in any business who check in to Facebook. Facebook’s original free wifi test included just 25 stores in the Bay Area. The company has now expanded it to 1,000.

For some people, there is just no need for a cable or pipe to deliver the internet or TV to their residence specifically, as long as they are within range of a free wifi hotspot.