Thursday, November 12, 2015

Where are we going with TV? Part 1 - Pioneers

I wrote the post below over a year ago. It really shows as we have seen some changes to the landscape. Yes our internet bills are rising to $100+ a month, HBO is now available without a cable subscription and we can search across many services at once on some devices and services. Sadly while everything advanced, sports remains behind. Old post below for your viewing....

I'll tell you the answer upfront, its a race to online viewing for everything. But its not as nice of a future as it may seem to be.

The pioneers of this movement are the cord cutters and the online TV service providers. Some of the big choices right now are Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Apple, Vudu, and Aereo. Some charge recurring monthly fees, others charge per show or movie. Then there are services which support online viewing but have a requirement for existing TV packages like HBOGo, Showtime Anytime, WatchESPN. Finally we have the big sports franchises which offer online viewing for a $100-200 per season fee with a myriad of restrictions and blackouts. Finally we get down to watching these services on a TV. This is accomplished with a box like Roku or AppleTV. There are hundreds of boxes to choose from but not any single device supports every option.

The result of this is the cord cutters have multiple devices or they forego certain services, all the while having to click dozens of buttons to switch from one type of service to another. They also have to check specialized websites to find where they can watch their shows, or flip from service to service and perform a dozen searches to find what they want to watch. And there are still certain shows they can't watch, even if they want to pay for them. This leads to some turning to piracy, 'borrowing' cable passwords from friends, or paying for questionable services which bypass regional black outs.

Why are they cutting the cord with all these hurdles? Some can't afford to pay for cable, others have reached a point where their cable bills are unjustifiably high, and others like the flexibility with cord cutting. If you aren't hooked on a particular show but just want TV to watch when you have time, you can get a $50 Roku box and a $9/mo netflix subscription and have thousands of TV shows, movies, kids shows all commercial free at the press of a button. Add an antenna for $20-40 and also get major networks for no monthly fee. If you don't have a good antenna signal and live in one of the 22 markets coming this year, for $8/mo you could subscribe to Aereo and get all the major networks, free DVR service, and no antenna needed.

It use to be internet was a $10 - $15.00 add on to cable or phone packages. Now internet is a $50-80 add on. Soon internet service will be $100/mo and cable companies will be in a position to offer TV in any market for $30 as an add on to internet service. To get here cable companies need to also reduce what they are paying for TV. One interesting aspect is for cable companies to get behind Aereo (yes the company that threatens a portion of their business).