I’m probably too much of a TV addict to ever really ‘cut the cord’, but the recent news about HBO and CBS offering stand alone streaming services (otherwise known as OTT or over-the-top) is certainly something of interest.
A major shift in how TV is being delivered and consumed is under way, and that’s awesome! But as with any change, and vague initial announcements, a lot is unknown about what this will ultimately mean for viewers and TV alike.
Seeing as how this is one of those things I enjoy nerding out about, I’ve got a lot of questions and thoughts about where we go from here:
My family’s Comcast bill is ridiculous, and we even have one of the more basic cable packages, so I’d like to think a la carte TV would be cheaper, but that might not necessarily be true. Channels could easily add up on their own and potentially cost more.
The Home Shopping Network, C-SPAN, and MTV3 aren’t driving up the prices for cable bundles, it’s the channels you watch with shows you can’t miss that will cost you. I’ve read a few articles that estimate that ESPN alone could cost around $30 bucks a month. Based on that theory, paying per channel would be like shopping at Target – everything is an awesome price, until you get to check out and total it all up.
I have to imagine not every network is going to jump on the streaming bandwagon immediately, whether it be for business or infrastructure reasons, so giving up on cable all together may actually still be a long time coming.
A standalone HBO service makes sense, it’s already a singular addition to the cable package, but what happens when some, but not all of your favorite channels are offered a la carte? Do you cut the cord and sacrifice some shows along the way? Plus, we don’t even know if the offerings will be the same. CBS streaming for instance won’t include NFL games despite the fact that they air Thursday night and Sunday games. If you really watch a diverse array of programs, traditional cable packages may sadly remain the best bet.
Hey, remember that time HBO GO crashed during Game of Thrones and True Detective? Or that time Watch ESPN failed to work during the USA’s World Cup soccer matches? I’ve also found the Showtime Anytime service to be quite unreliable. Call me crazy, but I don’t want to pay for a TV service that doesn’t work during the can’t-miss-moments of a TV series or sporting event.
Comcast and many other cable providers offer broadband Internet services too, so does this shift potentially mean a higher bill for Internet subscribers? Will streaming services be bundled with Internet packages for those opting not to get cable? And what does this all mean for the ongoing debate surrounding net neutrality?
CBS is the only broadcast network that doesn’t offer new episodes of current shows on Hulu, so in a way it kind of makes sense that they’d be the first to offer their own streaming service.
But what if the other broadcast networks follow suit, does this mean that the current crop of free TV episodes could disappear or be hidden behind a paywall? For some shows, you already have to wait 8 days for new episodes to become available online and ABC currently makes users authenticate a cable subscription when trying to watch the newest of new content on their site and Hulu.
Is this their way of getting everyone to pay?
HBO knows people share logins, and for now they are apparently mostly cool with it. At a Buzzfeed event last January, HBO’s CEO Richard Plepler was quoted saying, “It’s not that we’re unmindful of it, it just has no impact on the business”. But will it now?
How long until Netflix, Amazon, and HBO GO stop believing that sharing is caring?
What’s your take on CBS and HBO’s recent announcements? Feel free to share your questions, thoughts, and perhaps even answers in the comments below.