Cable providers should now panic -- cutting the cord is getting easier all the time

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Cord cutters are not new, they've been around for years now. Various reasons lead to this decision -- ranging from a simple lack of interest in programming to a desire to get TV shows and movies through other means. Over-the-air (OTA) has always been possible, and some go that route, but a growing number of services have sprung up to fill the gap left behind when cable and satellite service is cancelled.

Netflix, Hulu and Amazon all provided options for movies and TV shows, and now each has spread its wings and moved into the realm of producing original content. That is likely the time when cable providers should have moved into panic mode.

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If they didn't, then they weren't paying attention. If that's the case then this past week should have their full attention, because a couple of things happened that may signal their eventual doom.

First, HBO announced that its online service, which currently requires a verification of some sort of subscription to the old time services, will be dropping that little stipulation in 2015. The network that brings us such shows as Game of Thrones will offer a stand-alone product next year.

Second, CBS quickly followed -- in fact it did so the very next day (though it clearly was in the works, so this is coincidence). Its new online service is available right this moment, and it comes at a rather small fee. The network is offering a mix of new and old shows that should keep customers from repeating the old "there's nothing to watch" mantra.

Combine these new offerings -- well, including HBO, which is coming -- with existing ones I've mentioned. Then throw in other, lesser-known options like Crackle. Add in the smattering of folks who simply use things like Popcorn Time and you have a recipe that should scare the pants off of Comcast, Time Warner and their ilk.

Pile on set-top boxes like Roku and Amazon Fire TV and throw in dongles such as Chromecast. All are constantly improving the offerings provided to viewers. Oh, and let's not forget consoles like Xbox One, which is as much entertainment hub as it is gaming platform.

Don't get me wrong -- the providers aren't gone just yet. They still have folks like my parents, who can somehow watch endless hours of The Weather Channel. But the die is cast, the writing for what's coming is on the wall. In the future cable won't mean TV, it will simply mean broadband. It's not the end that any of them wants to face, but it's the reality they will have to look at. Like it or not, their days are are numbered.

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