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TV industry sees digital threats rising

Is it time for big television to start worrying about digital?

For years, the threats to traditional television have been present, but the digital revolution now appears to be gathering momentum, raising the prospect of shifts in viewing habits which could devastate an industry that has been lucrative for years.

The decades-old model for the industry has been built around cable and satellite TV offering high-priced "bundles" to consumers, and sharing revenue with the operators of cable and broadcast channels.

But viewers today have increasing choices through the Internet. They can subscribe to Netflix, Hulu or Amazon video, pick and choose subscriptions to individual channels like HBO or Showtime, or get slimmed-down packages of channels through new service providers.

Some viewers also watch free programs streamed over YouTube or other websites.

The big threat to the industry is from "cord cutting," which has been modest until now. If it accelerates, that could unravel the model which has worked for the industry for years.

- Panic mode -

After the latest quarterly updates from major television groups, Wall Street investors appeared to be panicking over the future of the industry.

Disney -- which owns the broadcast ABC network, and several cable channels such as sports TV group ESPN, saw its shares take an unprecedented nine percent dive after reporting earnings.

While Disney reported a "modest" number of...