prof. e.

Mass Communication, [multi]media, methodology and much, much more!

Cord Cutters Gaining Options

Posted by prof e on January 31, 2015

apple-tv-streamThe cable and satellite TV industry is beginning to face the inevitable. With broadband internet widely available on multiple screens, TV viewing options are morphing from the traditional fixed time and space (appointment TV in your living room) to flexible viewing (anytime, anywhere). Having resisted a la cart pricing for many years, cable and satellite TV providers are slowly coming to terms with the future…and hoping that they haven’t waiting too long to become viable players in a future where content is packaged by the buyer–not the seller.

In the past if you wanted access to broadcast and cable network programming you had, at most, only a few options. Depending on where you lived you could subscribe to cable (basic and tiered packages at prices ranging from $50-$100+ per month), satellite (pretty much the same deal but with a dish instead of a wire), or, in some markets, a variation known as wireless cable. Or, (see my earlier post), you might consider OTA (Over The Air) broadcast TV for only the cost of an antenna!

Most of these “packages” were available directly from the provider or bundled with your phone and/or internet service. Telecom and cable providers rushed to create packages of video, voice and data (i.e. television, telephone and internet) and the result was often a monthly bill between $100-$200.

But Millennials have been slow to buy in to these marketing plans. Tech savvy and often financially squeezed, they have looked for other, (read, less expensive) alternatives. These alternatives still required internet access or a data plan on their phones…but landline phones and cable/satellite TV were for older folks, e.g., their parents, and seemed redundant at best. With so many media options literally at their fingertips, younger consumers found that a mix of YouTube (seriously?, you need a link for YouTube?), Hulu, and Netflix provides a wealth of “television” programming without the sticker shock.

The problem is that, up until recently, live sports were seldom available online (unless you wanted to watch a choppy stream from some former Soviet-bloc website). But DiSH TV’s Sling TV (their slogan is Take Back TV), will soon be offering a basic package available for $20/month that will include ESPN, ESPN2, Disney Channel and CNN along with a handful of other popular networks. All you need is a smart TV or one of several streaming devices (e.g., Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast) and you’re in business. Or just sign up and watch on your computer, tablet or phone. In either case there is no long-term contract to sign. However, if you need your DVR’s time-shifting capability, or your weekly fix of Mad Men or The Walking Dead, Sling TV may not be for you. But others may find that it’s time to Take Back TV!

One other significant development is that cable networks and program providers are beginning to offer stand-alone streaming packages. In addition to deals announced last year by HBO, Showtime, and CBS, you can now subscribe to Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, and Sesame Street via Google’s Chromecast service, and the necessary hardware will only set you back a one-time fee of $35.

As you can see it will be fairly easy to cobble together some sort of TV programming package from a variety of sources to build a customized set of choices–and probably for a good bit less than you’d pay for a cable or satellite package.

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