Well, this might be central to what TV evolves into, but I still don't know what it looks like.
Try this premise out: Netflix isn't the egalitarian platform that conventional wisdom suggested it was. It isn't poor people cable TV, because to use Netflix, you need a decent broadband connection and some not inexpensive peripheral hardware.
Recast the Netflix audience: they're tech-savvy, media-savvy affluent 25-49s with disposable income that advertisers drool over. In fact, it's the target demo that is the most attractive to advertisers across the board.
That beautiful demographic is migrating rapidly to Netflix, where they're being trained...
- To wait for network content and watch network content within the convenience of on-demand that Netflix provides, and
- To expect zero commercials
That's the quandary for advertisers and networks. How do they get that demographic back?
Well, maybe that's not the question. If you're a network, your question is, "How do we continue to make money off that demographic?" Maybe it's without advertisers? Maybe, as Denny suggests, it's paywalled network-specific platforms, like Star Trek's new thing on CBS. Maybe you start to jack price quotes for content delivery to Netflix through the roof. The content platforms like Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon make up that shortfall in advertising by having to pay your network more for the content you provide.
And if you're a network, you're totally cool with that. You keep showing your shows on the mothership to declining ratings, but it's still pretty much the only way for advertisers to get the kind of reach that TV has, so they keep paying you. That's a revenue stream. You jack up your prices to Netflix to show episodes of Gotham or NCIS or Walking Dead. That's another revenue stream of an entirely different nature. And....you start paywalling content behind an app and on a network-based platform. 3.99 or 4.99 per month, watch anywhere on any device, all the shows we have on our network on demand, with only two commercial interruptions! Bingo, there's another revenue stream. You've got the diversified revenue streams that make investors go goggy-eyed, and you recover valuation.
That's a hypothetical, but it makes a network happy.
If you're a consumer like us, that hypothetical means you're going to pay more for Netflix, and there might be less content you want on it. You may have to pay for other a la carte content in addition. Maybe you grab HBO Now and some other content platform package. If you're a full-on cord cutter, it isn't hard to believe that to get access to even close to the content you're at now, you're going to have to spend what you were once paying for basic cable or expanded basic--which is the factor that drove you to cord-cutting in the first place. That's the nightmare, I think.
(Oh, and if you're an advertiser? Good effin' luck. Experience says that advertising is like water seeping in on an old roof--it'll find a way, somehow. But if you're an ad exec, your job is really tough right now.)