Don’t Mean To Be Alarmist, But The TV Business May Be Starting To Collapse

We get our news from the Internet, article by article, clip by clip. The only time we watch TV news live is when there’s a crisis or huge event happening somewhere. (You still can’t beat TV for that, but soon, news networks will also be streamed).

In the first decade of the commercial Internet–the 1990s and early 2000s–there were frequent murmurings that newspapers were screwed.

The digital audience didn’t read newspapers, people pointed out. They visited web sites. They read articles here and there. But they didn’t put the stack of articles, photos, and ads known as a “newspaper” on their breakfast table and flip through the whole thing.

What’s more, the digital audience stopped using newspapers as a reference and source for commerce. They browsed on eBay and Craigslist instead of reading classifieds. They got their movie news from movie sites. They got real-estate listings from real-estate sites. They learned about “sales” and other events from email and coupon sites. And so on.

In other words, the user behavior that had supported newspaper companies for a century began to change.

But for almost a whole decade, the newspaper industry barely noticed.

Subscriptions kept going up.

Ads kept going up.

Stocks kept going up.

Those who said that newspapers were screwed were dismissed as clueless doom-mongers, at least by newspaper executives.


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