Streaming Options go Wild – But still no holy grail

Major news broke recently that HBO will launch HBO Now, a stand alone product offering all of HBO’s content OTT for $15 per month.

A la Carte? courtesy Porto Bay Hotel & Resorts on Flickr

A la carte?
courtesy Porto Bay Hotel & Resorts on Flickr

With the emergence of several other new OTT services, the problem I see is that this is not cord cutting, it is cord trimming , because these new services are relatively expensive. Let’s look at the lineup of major new services going over the top in addition to some old standbys. If the average cable bill is $100 plus, the goal might be to keep the cord trimmer total to a small fraction of that. I’ll assume this time that your internet service is part of the equation since my “$100” number includes that.


Internet $45.00

Netflix  $8.99

Hulu Plus $7.99

HBO Now $15.00

CBS All Access $5.99

Dish Sling TV $20.00

 SUBTOTAL $102.97

Of course this is an extreme example which assumes no antenna and some  content overlap in our OTT lineup. How can we improve?

The biggest chunk here is your internet service. If you can find a cheaper ISP you’d be on your way  but unfortunately most of us don’t have such an option. And that’s the good news for Comcast/TWC  still fighting to  merge the two companies and become the dominant internet service provider in the U.S.

What else is needed? True a la carte. Of course CBS and HBO are single channel offerings but very pricey ones. Is a single broadcast network really worth $72 per year? Not when the same content is free over the air it’s not. See Antennas.

Cable operators have been telling us for years that a la carte would not save us money, and with the current state of the art they are correct. What would be nice is something like Sling TV but where the customer gets to pick his own 20 channels. Recent news broke about another mini-bundle to be offered by Apple,  but like Sling this is probably going to be a take it or leave it package.

So does the emergence of all these OTT bundles signal a a possible breaking point in the current Pay TV model?  Or is this just more of the same? Please share your opinion in the comments below…

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10 Responses to Streaming Options go Wild – But still no holy grail

  1. Augustine says:

    This is an interesting analysis. Indeed, such offerings merely exchange half a dozen for six. Of course, this is merely the industry trying to preserve the state of things. Perhaps Netflix is not or is not regarded as disrupting to the MPIAA as Napster was to the RIAA.

    Personally, in the last few months, I noticed that I have being watching TV less. Instead, I’ve found more interesting things to do, particularly reading. Series and movies have started to leave a sour aftertaste of cliché lately. I’m sure that, hadn’t I cut the cord, I’d still find that watching a screen was fine entertainment worth my time and attention. Not so, not so anymore.

    • Greg says:

      Well it depends on how you look at “the industry”. Cable operators that don’t own content are possibly in bigger trouble than those that do.

  2. Len Mullen says:

    My first comment would be that Sling only supports one concurrent user. My second concern would be that your lineup does not include local programming. Third, you need to be aware of caps and throttles imposed by the ISP. Your shopping list does not include a DVR. In my home, that configuration would not be a hit.

    The first step in cord cutting should be to investigate the free stuff. Once you have vetted the free stuff, you can address the gaps in the marketplace. With an antenna, you do not need internet access at all never mind high speed, low latency, uncapped, unthrottled internet.

    • Greg says:

      Thanks for the feedback. Are you aware of either a bandwidth limit or throttling that would prohibit say unlimited Netflix? B

    • Dan R. says:

      As for the DVR option there are software alternatives that use your desktop pc and then sling, or cast, media to your tv/devices. We currently are using Playon to record shows, watch movies or listen to music we’ve downloaded, and even to look at family photos/videos. Pretty neat stuff.

      • Greg says:

        I’ve tried Playon and thought it wasn’t quite family friendly. How does it work for the other member of your household?

  3. Len Mullen says:

    When we had unlimited internet with Comcast — which was more than five years ago — they started warning us about excessive usage. This happened during school vacation when the kids ran Netflix as background noise. Gigaom compiled a list in 2012…

    Fairerplatform crafted this list last year…

    Verizon has been caught throttling…

    Comcast has a policy…

    The practice is likely to increase as streaming becomes more popular and more people forego cable bundles in favor of less expensive streaming alternatives.

    Looking at Comcast’s published policy, they offer 300g/month with each additional 10g costing $10. Netflix uses 3 GB per hour for HD and 7 GB per hour for Ultra HD. According to Nielsen, children watch 24 hours of TV per week and adults watch 33 hours per week. Assuming they watch together half the time (14.5 + 9.5 + 18.5), only one concurrent stream, and HD streaming, you are talking about (14.5 + 9.5 + 18.5) / 7 * 30.4 * 3g/hr or 554g/month. That would add $60 to a monthly bill (5.08 50g increments). That does not include other uses for the internet of everything and is probably a conservative calculation for viewing. That’s an extra $720 per year, conservatively.

    Still want to stream?

    • Greg says:

      As opposed to OTA you mean? Probably because a lot of good content is going to be mainly in that form. But your numeric data makes a good point. Streaming via Comcast ISP leaves them very much in control. Maybe they won’t be able to discriminate against Sling TV packets, but they can play with pricing so that effectively it accomplishes the same thing.

  4. Len Mullen says:

    As opposed to anything. I don’t really think cable and satellite are too expensive. If I only had one or two televisions, I would probable get Dish. We switched from Dish to cable because we could get ‘some’ channels on sets without boxes. We switched to OTA when cable took away that advantage.

    That was five years ago. We really only use three televisions now with my oldest in college and my youngest very busy. This would be a good time to switch to Dish. We’ve simply lost our appetite for cable tv. I travel a bit and spend some time in hotels, so I have not been without cable. After a week in a hotel, I am pretty happy to get home to my antenna, dvr, and media server.

    We get 47 channels OTA including ABC, MeTV, BOUNCE, CBS, COZI, CW, ZUUS, Escape, Fox, Fox Movies!, getTV, WBIN, AntennaTV, Grit, WSBK, ION, IONLife, Qubo, QVC, NBC, This TV, PBS, Create, Explore, Kids, and World plus everything I have DVR’d over five years. My optical library includes 400 movies plus a dozen box sets of tv series.

    Anyway, they lost my business and have to win it back. That will take more than a discounted bundle for a year.

    I’m keeping my eye on Apple and Sling, but, so far, they offer little to entice me. If Channel Master added Sling channels to the DVR+, I would probably sample it. $20 a month for A&E, HISTORY, H2, Lifetime, ESPN, ESPN2, AMC, TNT, TBS, Food Network, HGTV, Travel Channel, IFC, El Rey, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, ABC Family, Disney Channel, CNN, Galavision, WatchESPN, AMC, BBC AMERICA, BBC World News, IFC, SundanceTV, and WE tv.

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