The events of last week were the first signals of an established TV industry realizing it can't dismiss these trends forever.
Forget the fearmongers
Predictably, the arrival of new streaming options has provoked plenty of fearmongers and cable apologists--people who want to scare you into thinking we're on a bad path. Be careful what you wish for, they say, because a la carte is going to be a lot more expensive than buying a big fat cable bundle.
Much like the TV industry executives who spent years denying that cord-cutting was a real thing, these naysayers have a tendency to ignore reality. The reason HBO and CBS are finally going standalone is because they've reached a tipping point where the cord-cutting audience has become too hard to ignore. Over time, more networks will follow suit, at which point they'll all be competing directly for your money instead of milking it the easy way through cable. The ones who offer quality content at reasonable prices will win.
Cable bundle cheerleaders also like to assume that networks could not possibly make any less money than they do now, therefore each channel will get away with charging insanely inflated prices for standalone streaming. But in all likelihood, the TV industry will face some hard times ahead as more people live outside the traditional bundle system, just as the music industry did when it transitioned from CDs to MP3s to streaming services. In the end, the result will be more and better ways to watch what you want, whether that's through a big buffet of channels, or a cheaper, smaller a la carte selection.
The transition will be slow, but it's finally starting to happen in earnest, and the only things to fear are the rhetoric and brutal tactics from cable companies as they try to keep people hooked. So instead, let's tear down the bundle for good.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.