As we approach the end of 2019, and get ready for what will be a busy 2020, we wanted to highlight some key initiatives and milestones that cable providers and TV networks achieved over the last year. It’s been a great year and decade for TV and the internet, and it will be fascinating to see what’s in store for 2020 and beyond.
Introduction of 10G
In January at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), NCTA – The Internet & Television Association, CableLabs and Cable Europe introduced the cable’s vision for delivering 10 gigabit networks, or 10G™, to consumers in the United States and across the globe in the coming years. 10G will bring groundbreaking broadband speeds, allowing for seamless support of a wide variety of digital services and applications. Those include, but aren’t limited to, smart cities, healthcare, education, gaming, video streaming and virtual and augmented reality. Additionally, the 10G platform promises improved security, reliability and increased capacity to meet consumers’ needs for the future.
Eagle Unleashed New Opportunities in Rural America
Eagle Communications – a rural provider in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Colorado – partnered with the small rural town St. Francis, Kansas, to invest in the community and deploy a fiber network offering internet speeds up to 1 gigabit. After being rejected for grant money by the USDA, Eagle invested its own money into the town that is home to approximately 1,300 people. Now, St. Francis is thriving as 11 new businesses have opened and nine new commercial ventures have sprung up. Eagle's gigabit internet service has also enticed young professionals to work in the rural area and try out new opportunities. To highlight this important project in St. Francis, NCTA produced three videos profiling the town and people who operate local businesses.
Cable's Diversity Efforts Exceed National Benchmarks in Several Areas
During the industry’s Diversity Week in September, WICT and NAMIC – the industry's associations representing women and people of color – released their biennial study that measures diversity demographics within the workforce. The 2019 AIM/PAR Workforce Survey results demonstrated steady strides in key areas, including the percentage of people of color in the industry as well as higher rates of women rising to executive and senior-level positions. While work remains to be done, particularly in retaining women and people of color, as well as in the promotion rates for people of color, the overall data is encouraging.
A few of the highlights include:
- An increase to 26% for people of color who hold executive and senior-level manager positions, which is 11% higher than the national benchmark (15%)
- Overall gains at all levels in the representation of people of color in the workforce for both cable operators and programmers, but especially among operators
- A rise to 35% for women who hold executive and senior-level manager positions, which is 5% higher than the national benchmark (30%)
- Higher promotion and hiring rates for women overall which exceeded hiring rates of men by nine percentage points
Wi-Fi 6 Launches as the Next Generation of Wi-Fi Network Technology
In February, Wi-Fi 6 was announced as the next generation of Wi-Fi technology, promising to more efficiently help with network congestion, deliver faster speeds, including gigabit connections like 10G, and provide other improvements. This new certification includes Wi-Fi connected devices from routers to smart lightbulbs to tablets. Also, Wi-Fi 6 is backwards compatible, meaning if someone buys a new smart speaker that runs the new standard, it will still work fine on Wi-Fi 5, it just won’t get all the same benefits. This way, as devices upgrade and get replaced and connections become faster, the transition is smooth. Additionally, Wi-Fi 6 introduces new technologies that help routers communicate with more devices simultaneously.
The Rapid Rise of Esports, Powered by Fast Broadband
Esports represent a rapidly growing new form of entertainment with constantly increasing new teams and captive audiences. It is estimated that 84 million Americans will call themselves fans by the end of 2021, surpassing fans of all other professional sports leagues, except the NFL. Due to its rapid growth and popularity, esports quickly caught the interest of cable and programmer companies with Cox, Comcast, Turner and ESPN starting their own esports teams and leagues. These partnerships are a natural fit, since gamers need extremely reliable, low latency, high-speed internet connections. As entertainment changes with VR and immersive media on the horizon, esports and gaming give us a peek at the types of applications the future might hold when 10G speeds arrive.
C-SPAN's 40th Anniversary is a Celebration of Democracy
On March 19, C-SPAN marked its 40th Anniversary of providing Americans with unfiltered coverage of the U.S. political process, allowing viewers to judge the news for themselves. Unlike other networks, C-SPAN captures government proceedings and events live and sans commercial breaks, commentary or analysis. Unbeknownst to many people, C-SPAN is able to do this because it is a not a tax-funded government channel—it's supported by cable affiliates across the country. Over the years, C-SPAN has evolved to reach viewers across different platforms, in addition to having the C-SPAN bus travel around the country to educate at schools and communities about election resources and information. C-SPAN continues to be the cable industry's gift to America.
Game of Thrones Shattered Viewership Records During Final Season
In May, HBO’s Game of Thrones – the network’s biggest series in its history – came to an end and, despite spurring controversy over its finale, the show had a captive audience of a record 19.3 million viewers. Game of Thrones experienced growth in viewership each year, culminating in an all-time high for its final season as millions tuned in to find out how the story would end. In fact, this last season averaged more than 44 million viewers per episode after accounting for delayed viewing and viewership across all platforms. In today's TV marketplace in which viewers can choose from a limitless menu of programming, Game of Thrones proved that award-winning storytelling and cinema-quality production will always bring people to the small screen, and keep them coming back for more.
Women’s World Cup Won Audiences on TV and Online
Over the summer, FIFA Women's World Cup final between the USA and the Netherlands was a thriller, and the US Women’s National Team (USWNT) players weren't the only ones walking away with a victory. The TV networks that aired all of the matches experienced record-breaking numbers during each stage of the tournament. FOX reached over 14 million viewers and peaked at nearly 19 million during the final match in France. The game is now the most-watched soccer game on English-language television in the U.S. since the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup final. Furthermore, the 2019 Women’s World Cup Final also outperformed the men's 2018 FIFA World Cup final. Telemundo, which had the Spanish-language broadcasting rights to the tournament, also set a new record for the event when the final reached 1.6 million viewers. The match now stands as the most-watched FIFA Women's World Cup match in Spanish-language history.