Time-shifting, is an industry term for what occurs when an individual either records content and watches it later, or watches content at a different time from when the television show initially aired through some other source. There are a number of different ways that time-shifting occurs. It used to be, that individuals who wanted to watch a television program at a different time in which it was initially aired had to record the shows through a VCR or a DVD recorder. Times have changed though, and a lot of content is available on YouTube, through Internet television distribution ecosystems like Roku, or on distribution platforms like Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Vudu, Daily Motion, or Vimeo.
You do not have to record your television anymore, and you don’t have to pay to watch it, or pay for the equipment to watch it, anymore. I can hook an antenna up to my computer, download the right software, and record channels without the use of a VCR or a DVD recorder directly to my hard drive, upload it to YouTube, mirror the image, or set it at a 30 degree angle, mislabel the file and it will be available to anyone on YouTube, forever, until the initial distributor finally realizes that their show or movie is available online and challenges its presence in YouTube through the system Google has set up for them to address their grievances. It happens every day, every hour. But then, after going through all that work, I realize that 30 other people did the same thing, with the same content.
I can also pay $7.99 a month, or $79 a year, to watch the same content legally. No one needs to subscribe to cable or satellite services to do this, and yes there are software tricks that allow you to download from these services, and you can watch it at home after downloading from some other Internet connection. But why would I waste my time? For the price of Internet television; $60 for a box, $8 a month for content, I could save myself a lot of time and effort and just get it over with. None of the television shows out there are that good, that I cannot stand to wait a day or a week for it to go online.
Hulu Plus has PBS, VH1 and MTV shows available. So why would I pay $15 a month for 30 cable channels I don’t watch when I can pay a little over half that amount to watch the shows I really care about? Not to mention, that with cable I still have to rent a DVR at the tune of $11.99 a month for the privilege of time-shifting. Cable companies are now charging a monthly fee to watch PBS programming (which most viewers do not realize until they plug the TV directly in the wall and are unable to tune in said stations). I don’t know why anyone would waste their time with the cable company.
The only thing cable companies can give me is a good Internet connection. Satellite providers cannot offer me anything. Even sports are available online, and it is just a matter of time before the NBA, NHL, or NFL, makes a deal directly with Roku, Hulu or Netflix. It is also a matter of time before those distribution platforms are bigger than the networks they’re competing with. They’re also involved in the creation of their own programming, and before it is all over and done with, you’ll see a Netflix or Hulu produced show on NBC, CBS, or ABC.
If local television broadcasters want to continue to exist at all I would suggest they either work with Netflix, Hulu, Apple, or Google, or create their own platforms in that they would co-exist online. People aren’t hooking the antenna up anymore; cord cutters are going directly to the Internet and bypassing everyone and everything else. Local broadcasters could put out their own apps that allow those few that actually want to watch network broadcasts in real time on their smartphones, tablets, and personal computers. Right now local broadcasters offer apps with curated segments from the local news, as those are the most profitable (and the only in-house produced content). But they may inevitably need to offer everything online.