What’s New in Streaming TV Industry?

Streaming TV

Greetings Free TV Review followers!

It’s been a bit of time since our last post, and boy have things been moving and shaking in the Streaming TV or “cut the cord” space.  We’ve got all the angles covered and promise to keep you informed and aware on your cord cutting journey.  Here are four of the hottest stories in the streaming video space.

Hulu Enters Live Streaming TV Scene

In May, Hulu announced a new live TV streaming service set to launch in early 2017. While Hulu already offers on-demand streaming content to millions of subscribers, they’re looking to add a live aspect to their content platform in 2017.

This would put them in direct competition against the traditional cable and satellite TV providers, as well as our favorite live streaming content provider, Sling TV.

Based off initial research, it appears Disney, ESPN, ABC, and Fox are on board, with others still in discussion. While no price has been announced, a $40 per month skinny bundle has been identified as “being in the ballpark” of what Hulu is currently planning to offer.

CBS Wants You To Cut The Cord!

CBS appears to be the first major broadcast network that has really embraced the cut the cord / digital streaming consumer.  CBS, which also owns Showtime, has developed an all access digital subscription model for those looking to access their growing content library in a purely digital fashion.

CBS All Access, is a web-based, streaming subscription platform that offers consumers access to every episode of almost every CBS show (over 7,500 episodes) you can think of.This focus on the digital consumer, is a shift from most traditional broadcast networks, who remain focused on the old fashioned consumer who is sitting in their living room watching content on their television. 

Les Monhees, the Chairman and CEO of CBS, summed up their approach very succinctly:  “no matter how you get your CBS content, we are going to be there. So if you want to stay more traditional, we’re going to be there. But as more and more people are watching our content digitally, we also want to make that offering there (referring to CBS All Access).”

Another asset that CBS is monetizing via digital streaming is Showtime network.  CBS offers Showtime Anytime  in a subscription format for $10.99 per month (June 2016), and can be accessed via several streaming devices and internet ready televisions.  Showtime has had a series of recent hits (The Affair, Billionaire, ) and has seen their viewership blossom over the last two years.

CBS continues to grow its digital streaming platforms and views it as an area of growth over the next few years. Our guess here at FTR is within the next year or two, you’ll start to see a similar mindset over at ABC, NBC and Fox….but CBS takes the cake for being the broadcast network at the forefront of the streaming TV revolution!

Apple TV Plays a Game of Cat and Mouse with Streaming TV

One of the most surprising developments in the streaming TV space in 2016 is the lack of development by Apple TV regarding a subscription streaming TV service, that would rival that of Sling TV or Hulu’s recent announcement (see theme #1).

Apple has long been rumored to be launching a subscription TV package that would be offered via their Apple TV streaming device. While rumors have swirled for years, 2016 was thought to be the year that Apple finally launched their new service.

Apple is early in the process of evolving from a hardware/device company to more of a subscription/fee company that is able to monetize the tens of millions of consumers within its Apple ecosystem. A subscription TV service packaged with its Apple TV would be a terrific opportunity to capture recurring fee income from the millions of consumers who have (or are about to) cut the cord!

While Apple hasn’t shared much insight around their future plans related to a subscription TV model, one of the rumored challenges is the difficulty with negotiating licensing rights across several different broadcast partners. Not every network and content provider has embraced streaming TV, and some may be hesitant to determine the appropriate price to license their content to the likes of Apple.

This is a challenge that Sling TV has overcome and Hulu is in the process of overcoming, but Apple is another animal all together.

Contrary to Popular Believe, Cable TV Still Has a Pulse

While some media outlets are claiming that cable and satellite television companies are on the verge of losing massive  amounts of subscribers, the truth is probably a bit more muted.  Here at FTR we’ve long held the position that we’re in the early innings of a multi-generational shift away from the traditional cable/satellite television construct.  This journey will last 15-25 years and will take a few twists and turns along the way.

Based off a study released in 2015, 83% of American households are still shelling out big $$$ for monthly cable and satellite TV subscriptions.  While this was down from 87% five years ago, it highlights that cable/satellite TV won’t go away overnight. While we’re happy to be part of the 17% not lining the pockets of Big Cable, their “impending death” is a bit misleading.

We also expect over the next few years, that cable, satellite and telecommunications companies will continue to blur the lines between traditional full-price subscription packages and “skinny bundles,”  or smaller content offerings of a few dozen main channels vs. the 100s of channels offered in full-service subscription packages.

Verizon already offers one skinny bundle service called “Custom TV” for $65, which appears to be a direct competitor to Sling TV’s monthly service, though Verizon’s lineup is a bit more well rounded.  We expect this type of “offer” to be the new norm for all content providers over the next few years.

**In full transparency, we are not advocating for you to sign up for Verizon’s Custom TV package.  The price of$65 per month is much higher than what is offered by Sling TV, and while we do recognize there are more channels to chose from, the usual caveats apply (must sign up for one year subscription, was priced $10 cheaper earlier this year, add’l charges and other fees apply, etc…).  However, if you’re currently paying over $100 a month for a full-service subscription but not completely ready to cut the cord, this might be a more cost effective option in the near term.

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