Friday, October 17, 2014

Are the Days of Cable TV Numbered?

One of my less than favorite activities is paying bills, and the monthly cable bill is near the top of the list.  Like many of you, I have channels that I don't need full of things I don't watch.  So paying a bundled price for these networks is pretty frustrating.  With the arrival of high-speed Internet and streaming video I always wondered why networks didn't cut out the middle man and offer their own subscription service.

Apparently, I was just ahead of the curve.

HBO, which offers a ton of programming and many great original shows, is set to offer a streaming subscription service in 2015, according to The Atlantic.  Previously to get the HBO Service you had to have a cable subscription with HBO service (or COUGH know someone who did COUGH), but the network is set to release that requirement to open the door to cord cutters.

As if that wasn't bad enough news for cable providers that make a few bucks off of HBO, CBS has announced that it will also be offering up an "All Access" subscription app for $5.99 per month to let users watch the massive catalog of current and former hits in the network's umbrella of content.  However, that's not the big news, because users in several markets will also be able to live-stream the CBS network as well.  Right now about 14 markets have signed on and more will likely be added soon.

Oh, BTW if you were jumping for joy to stream those NFL games on CBS at work, you're out of luck because they will not be available.  At least not yet.  There will be some tricky licensing work hammered out because the NFL already gouges offers a package for the service.

Still, that's two networks that will be bypassing the cable providers.  How long before NBC, ABC, Fox, Disney, ESPN, and the others join the ranks?  Yes, all the monthly subscriptions might be more costly than a bundled $95 per month bill (especially when Netflix is added into the mix), but users will be able to pick and choose their content.

The cable providers are left out in the cold right?  Umm, not so fast there.  Many cable providers do double duty as Internet Service Providers, that's ISPs for all the cool kids, and will likely see more people jump to higher bandwidth services to make up for all that video.  Plus, don't count out those companies moving to a usage type bill or even billing by the gigabyte (GB) of data used like those great smartphone plans.

Is TV evolving?  Absolutely, but will it benefit the customer?  Who knows, but one thing seems pretty certain, things are going to start changing fast starting right now.  Once HBO decided to make a move the dominoes started falling.

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