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New York offers a ‘terrifying’ window into the future of mass media

New York: I am going to be in New York for a month but it has only taken a week or so to have my eyes opened to the terrifying outlook for traditional mass media.

The first thing that struck me was the complete lack of those ubiquitous rooftop TV aerials, now long gone; in fact, there are no satellite dishes but frankly, there never were many anyway because US networks opted for cable right from the start.

But now, consumers are ditching cable TV a lot faster than Wall Street analysts predicted, with online growing like topsy.

New York is all online.

Most striking of all, though, is that it is quite hard to buy a newspaper. In fact, one just doesn’t see newspapers. People on sidewalk cafes and the subway have given up reading newspapers. I have not seen a single person reading a newspaper this week. On a three-hour walk around Brooklyn, I saw one shop with a newsstand outside, selling the New York Times at $3 a pop. Far easier and much cheaper to get an online subscription or otherwise just read straight off their website for free.

What I have seen is hordes of New Yorkers with their eyes glued to their mobile phones. In the streets, on the subways, in restaurants and cafés. What is hard to find is someone who isn’t looking at a mobile phone or at least holding one.

Data is as cheap as chips and flat-out fast. Netflix and Hulu rule the roost with subscription fees costing next to nothing.

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