A WSJ article today, "TV's Alternate Universe," about the proliferation and inventiveness of basic cable programs, provides an unintentional reminder of the value these shows have as a bulwark against cord-cutting. The article points out that basic networks will spend $23 billion this year on 1,462 originals, up from $14 billion on 863 shows just 5 years ago. The fact that these shows are both finding an audience and that they are virtually unavailable for free online makes them highly strategic assets as the pay-TV industry is increasingly buffeted by over-the-top video competition.
Two years ago, in "Cutting the Cord on Cable: For Most of Us It's Not Happening Any Time Soon," I argued that there are 2 key reasons mass-scale cord-cutting was unlikely, at least in the short term: first, the difficulty of watching online-delivered video on TVs (instead of on computers) limited its appeal as a substitute for pay-TV service for mainstream consumers, and second, the loss of numerous popular cable entertainment programs resulting from cord-cutting would give many people pause.
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