In TV Land, the dinosaurs still rule the world
Surely, you've heard the news: The cable business is broken, the end of TV is nigh, and it's only a matter of time before the Internet does to television what it's done to music and newspapers -- obliterate the old business models and leave something shiny and new in their place.
Maybe. Some day. For now, the dinosaurs still rule the world.
As David Carr explained today in the New York Times, the two industries that make up what most people think of as the TV business -- content companies (who own the shows and the channels) and cable companies (who own the infrastructure that transports the shows and channels to your TV box) -- had a smashing year in 2012. Many of them outperformed the newer and nimbler companies, such as Apple, Netflix, and Google, that are supposedly destined to displace them. They owe much of their success to the very thing that was supposed to kill them -- the Internet.
First, the numbers. The TV business had a spectacular year. Cable's heavy hitters crushed the S&P 500 average in 2012: Comcast led the pack, up 57 percent, followed Time Warner Cable (up 53 percent), and Charter (up 34 percent). Among the big media companies, News Corp, CBS, and Disney, and Time Warner all finished up over 30 percent. (Those four conglomerates account for just about all of the television I watch, since they respectively own Fox, CBS, Showtime, ABC, ESPN, and TNT.)