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Cable providers must adapt to cord cutting: Frontier Exec

Traditional cable companies must adapt to cord cutting or they'll watch their business slip away, Frontier Communications' Maggie Wilderotter said Friday.

Content companies are already starting to buckle and package content for the smaller bundles that some cable and Internet service providers are now promoting, but the changes won't stop there, said Wilderotter, Frontier's executive chairwoman.

"I think you'll also see new ways of content being developed on the Internet that will create the new channels of tomorrow, that'll be really geared around [intellectual property] and not necessarily about a traditional linear video play," she told CNBC's "Squawk Box"

"We actually launched over-the-top-type TV programming several years ago because we knew that there was going to be a change. Customers don't want to buy 500 channels anymore and only watch 12."

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Old line players must move beyond their traditional business, or else someone will take that business away from them, she said. She pointed to Comcast as an example of a company that had pivoted to embrace a content-focused strategy. The cable provider purchased a minority portion of CNBC parent NBCUniversal in 2011 and took full control of the media company in 2013.

"They've gotten very formidable in content, where 10 years ago they weren't in content," she said.

Verizon Communications, which purchased AOL in May, and AT&T have been formidable competitors over the years, as well, she said.

AT&T's purchase of DirecTV will make the company the dominant player in video, she said. The Federal Communications Commission is expected to approve the deal Friday.

The changing media landscape is also roiling the advertising world.

Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of British multinational advertising firm WPP, said there is some credence to the notion that linear TV companies face the same changes today that newspapers faced with the rise of the Internet.

"I don't think it as earth-shattering, and I don't think it will be as fast, but it's dangerous to say that because everything happens much faster than we anticipated," he told CNBC.

He said trends in two closely followed metrics in the advertising world—customer time spent interacting with a medium and industry investment—are telling.

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While consumers now spend 37 percent of their time watching television, it attracts 41 percent of industry investment, marking the first time there's been a significant difference between those two. Sorrell said they usually track together.

Meanwhile customers spent 48 percent of their time watching over-the-top content on Internet and mobile, but that medium only attracts 31 percent of industry investment.

"Those two things need to shift," Sorrell said.

Disclosure: Comcast owns NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC.