Television affiliates are dead meat
Video and audio quality depends on more than the stream’s resolution, so it’s possible for a 480p stream to look no better than, or even worse than, a standard definition television picture. I can attest that to my subjective eyes, Hulu’s EDTV quality on my 17″ 1920×1200 MacBook Pro was superior to standard definition television.
I had fewer commercial breaks, of a shorter duration (15 seconds each), than I would have had watching my local NBC affiliate, KING TV. And those commercials could be targeted toward my interests in a way that can’t be done on broadcast television. (Once they collect some data about my viewing habits.) So: fewer commercials, of greater interest to me.
And this viewing was totally legal, and totally free.
Why should I watch any content on my local television affiliate, when I can have a better experience watching it on Hulu? (Or on one of Hulu’s competitors?) The clock is running out on the affiliate broadcast television model. Dead man walking.