The future doesn't look too bright for cable. Since the start of the year, two significant skirmishes between cable operators and content owners have angered customers and drawn media derision. First, News Corp
More recently, Disney
While the companies involved did not reveal the details of how they settled the disputes -- or came to a temporary cease-fire, at least -- it appears that the cable companies gave up some ground, or some dollars, to the content owners in both cases.
With an ever-increasing expansion of distribution channels -- Netflix
At the same time, consumers are increasingly turning to online venues for television content, making a pricey premium cable TV bundle less of a necessity. A recent study by Conference Board / TNS Compete reported that 25% of all U.S. households watched some TV online. Younger consumers aged 18-24 are watching more than five hours of video per month online, according to Nielsen. Neither of these trends is positive for cable operators.
Look for cable-operator-vs.-content-owner disputes to become more common, especially on the eve of major televised events best watched live. That said, don't look for NBC to be party to one of these spats, given its pending sale to Comcast.
If you had to invest in one cable company or one content provider, which company would it be? Leave your thoughts in the comments box below!
More Foolish content choices:
Fool contributor April Taylor owns shares of Apple. Walt Disney is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Apple, Walt Disney, and Netflix are Motley Fool Stock Advisor choices. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. The Fool has a disclosure policy.