Cracks in the Foundation: Signs that Big Cable is in for a Big Change


Over the last few months we have been reading numerous stories all leading to two big conclusions:

1. Eventually Cable will go all OTT (over the top).

2. Eventually,  some day, Cable will go a la carte.

Here are some of the top stories supporting these points:


Netflix adding their own content

Netflix spent $100M on House of Cards and has already earned it back in new subscribers.  Industry watchers know the challenge and threat for Netflix has

courtesy WayTru on Flickr

courtesy WayTru on Flickr

been getting access to  content.  If they don’t own it they cant stop Comcast/NBC or Starz from pulling the rug out.  Well now Netflix has shown they  have a strategy to counter that. House of Cards is OTT and it’s free with your Netflix subscription.




Verizon considering OTT

At this year’s NAB show the news broke that Verizon would actually consider a la carte pricing for its FIOS service. Verizon has over 4M TV service subscribers and competes with Comcast, TWC etc. This move would likely spur similar action from competitors.


Google Fiber scaring the Bejesus out of traditional Cable operators

If you aren’t living in Kansas City, Austin, or Provo UT you might not realize that Google has entered the cable operator business.  The scary part for legacy MSO’s is that Google offers either a FULL Gigabit (up and down) of internet bandwidth, or believe it or not, a FREE low speed plan. (More on this in a later post).  A Gigabit of bandwidth is enough to carry a couple hundred HDTV signals (MPEG 2 type). Yeah,  that’s enough to make OTT run without buffering issues.


Google (YouTube) adding pay channels

This  news arrived courtesy of my friend Len over at The Beer’s on COMAST! with the comment “Did that just turn every modern BD player and smart TV into a Roku competitor?” So Google now owns a  fiber to the home “cable” system, and offers new “paid channels”.  I just wonder if they’ll combine these features somehow.


Century Link considering offering a full Gb too

So perhaps Century Link is responding to Google Fiber with the announcement they plan to offer a full  Gigabit of bandwidth in this  fiber to the home project in Omaha. Which operator will be next? (Keep your eyes on TWC in KC and Austin).


Aereo still going strong

Aereo, the startup that offers a mini line-up strictly OTT, has survived several court challenges from the big boys.  If they can’t be stopped we will likely see some similar competing formats from others . Netflix could probably replicate Aereo in no time.


Television Consumer Freedom Act

This bill introduced recently by John McCain, would force networks to un-bundle their offerings to Cable operators and in theory lead to an a la carte system.  I don’t expect to see something this big pass through congress without a huge fight, but it will be fun to watch.


There we have it. All signs leading to an OTT/a la carte world. Let me know your thoughts on any others in the comments below.


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8 Responses to Cracks in the Foundation: Signs that Big Cable is in for a Big Change

  1. AG says:

    Speculation / rumors that HBO will offer internet-only subscriptions through their existing cable distributors:

  2. Len Mullen says:

    This is a great post, Greg. This has kind of been happening all around us for awhile, but all of a sudden, it’s as if a dike has broken open. Aereo is scheduled to launch in Kansas City later this year. Imagine Google Free Fiber plus Aereo broadcast television plus Netflix for $14 per month?

    You didn’t mention rumors of an Amazon set top box or the fact that TWC has a Roku channel.

  3. Bob says:

    Great post. in my area, Ct., and probably other areas also has added more local channels. I now get the major networks not only from New York City, but Boston and D.C. too. They also added Cozi TV.

  4. Augustine says:

    I wonder if it’s too little, too late. I say this based on my experience dropping cable.

    Ever since then, I found out that I don’t miss cable. By using Amazon, Netflix and free Roku channels I have access to a much better programming selection for a fraction of the cost of cable. Certainly, I had to to forgo some programs I enjoyed and have to wait fro some content to be made available, but these is not worth the cost of cable. As a matter of fact, most of the content on cable, even that available off the air, disgusts me.

    So, even if cable unbundles, something that I had wished for for years, I don’t really care anymore.

    • Bob says:

      I agree, I can watch just about anything I want using the internet, the only thing I might go for would be sports channels a la carte, but that’s about it.

  5. Since we made the decision to move away from cable and toward Roku over a year ago we have never looked back. Indeed the only issue we have is football.

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