Disintermediation and the Cord Cutter – and the college student

I’ve been thinking about the cord cutter’s dilemma from the highest level, that is in terms of megatrends. One of my favorite words is “disintermediation”, a term spell checkers still don’t like, but which means the removal of intermediaries.

The internet has been one of the biggest forces of such disintermediation. Some good examples include:

Before After
book stores   Amazon.com
record stores   iTunes
travel agencies   Kayak.com
libraries           Google
printed newspapers   nytimes.com







In all of the above cases either information, or content is found quicker and easier using a browser than with the traditional method. So who are the hold-outs? I can think of two major cases:

Before Emerging
cable TV over the top content
universitie Moocs (online courses)





Do you see the similarity? Now excuse me while I digress on a side-rant about the high cost of a college education today.

Graduates Lifting Mortarboards

Colleges and universities assemble course content and deliver it on their terms. You want a degree? Sign up with USC at $50,000 per year. But wait. Isn’t 90% of this just a large room with desks and chairs and some guy talking up front? Now imagine taking that same class and webcasting it. Hundreds or even thousands of students could take the class from their home. The cost per student per class would plummet. If this became the accepted way to earn a college degree, the entire industry of over-priced education might be wiped out.

So let’s get back on topic now and talk about cable TV. In the US we have dozens of cable and satellite television operators all assembling channel line-ups, delivering set top boxes, sending out bills, and employing sales people, administrators, technicians and executives. But do we need all this duplication? Not really. All we really need is a “dumb” internet pipe to our house, and the ability to assemble our own channel line up, a la carte, from a list of things like Fox.com, ESPN.com, etc etc.  5Mb/s and a Roku would do the trick.

In either of the above I do worry about the economic ramifications. A lot of well paid jobs would vanish. Perhaps  that is why the university model is holding on. What would you do with all those professors and teachers? Same thing for cable which employs thousands. None the less I do think both models will eventually break. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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4 Responses to Disintermediation and the Cord Cutter – and the college student

  1. bob says:

    It already happened for me, I can watch many cable stations on slipstreamtv.com, just need adblock installed to stop all the pop ups, pretty much the same with free tv sites, use adblock and you should be fine. A free USTVnow account gives you free major network tv as does Filmon.com. I do the same for sports links, although it would be nice to get sports networks with OTT ala carte, FAVE tv an OTT service offers a pretty decent sports network lineup.

    • Greg says:

      Hi Bob,
      Yes I know but you’re an early adopter. What you are doing isn’t really ready for the mainstream yet. By that I mean good enough to replace the basic TV experience for the average cable sub.

  2. Augustine says:

    Although those job posts would vanish, others would be necessary. I mean, of the dozens of bookstores that don’t exist anymore in NYC, for example, the hundreds of jobs that they used to provide are likely now in package delivery companies or at other ancillary services to online shopping, if not at the online retailer itself.

    And, NY Times? Come on, there are many other online news sites parroting AP or Reuters news feeds.

    On college tuition prices, indeed, there is no justification for its accelerated rise far above the inflation rate. And it’s clearly not the professors who are benefiting from it, much less the students, since many classes are taught by teaching assistants instead. I suspect that the bureaucracy has been the main beneficiary, as a dean in a college at my local university makes 3/4 of a million. Stop to think about this amount to someone who’s nothing more than a politicking paper-pusher. That’s what $50000 a year for a liberal arts degree pays for.

    • Greg says:

      I appreciate your feedback Augustine. I wonder if the new jobs would really equal the old jobs in quantity? I doubt it. Especially in the case of college.

      NY Times was just an example, though I do think they are one of the more popular online services for news.


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