Is Cable TV in Trouble?

And what does that mean for broadcast radio?

This Wall Street Journal article
(subscription required) explains why “…it’s cool to have rabbit ears again.”

It seems that more and more homes are opting to cancel their cable or satellite TV service and watch local broadcast TV channels free. Even Wal-Mart is now selling TV antennas.

This is about saving money and the ability to stream TV shows you love on Netflix and Hulu. A Netflix spokesman said, “60% of viewing hours are spent on television shows, compared with 40% for movies,” and the TV show viewing percentages are growing annually.

More of us are watching TV shows on our schedule, rather than the network’s schedule anyway, so why not watch them online, especially when you can save about $100 a month, the typical amount most wired homes pay in subscriber fees.

The Middle Class in America has lost an estimated 40% of its net worth since 2000, according to recent studies, so saving $1200 a year in cable costs is a big deal to many families.

And, if you have kids in their 20s, you already know they choose to watch TV shows on their computers. That’s more about control and what makes them comfortable than costs, but just as the idea of a land-line telephone seems absurd to them, we may see that the idea of paying hundreds of dollars to watch TV shows seems absurd too.

They love TV. They still watch as much as they ever have, maybe even more — just on their own terms, at their convenience, not the convenience of the network.

We know delayed viewing hurts TV advertising. Who in their right mind would claim anyone doesn’t zap through the interminably long spot sets in American Idol or Dancing with the Stars?

So what does this mean for broadcast radio?

The way we program it now, there’s no reason to record it and listen at a better time.

And maybe that’s something we should be thinking about, along with ways to prove our advertising works…