The Future of Television

    Cable TV alternative
    BobLee
    December28/ 2015

    Options for how you watch Television will continue to evolve in 2016.   The Era of Big Cable / Big Satellite is about over.  A Victory for “The Free Market”. …. Don’t be afraid of it.  Embrace it….. Cable options

    I try to offer you suggestions on evolving technologies that might affect the overall quality of your family’s life based on what Blondie and I are incorporating into our lives.  Our interests probably don’t align totally with yours, but “ya never know”; so I pass them along for your consideration.

    No secret that the demographics of this audience skews “seasoned”…. DUH!  “Change” is oft-perceived as scary and to-be-avoided by those born prior to 1960 or so.  You are short-changing yourself if that is the case.

    You’ve adapted your TV watching over the years from “the three networks” to whatever cable/satellite options you have incorporated into your life.  The next major sea-change involving you and your television is HERE.

    Please do not channel your latent Luddite and fear it. 

    You do NOT have to be “a computer geek” to enjoy HULU, NetFlix, Apple TV, et al.   You can save A LOTTA $$$ with these options as well as broaden your choices of what to watch and when to watch it.  Installing these options is easy.  Even if you have “a geek” (or your 10 y/o grandchild) set it up, it’s worth that minimal one-time fee.

    Go to a Best Buy or other audio-video retailer and learn about these options.  Blondie and I enjoy the terrific series on Netflix a lot as well as Apple TV.   Blondie’s goal is to NEVER have to endure another “commercial”.  We are getting there.

    You’re welcome!

    ###

     

    Cutting the Cord: Next year will bring even more streaming options

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/columnist/2015/12/27/cutting-cord-next-year-bring-even-more-streaming-options/77722020/

     

    Streaming video had a blockbuster year in 2015 for everyone from full-fledged cord cutters to those who supplement what they watch on cable or satellite with Net-delivered offerings.

    Expect that trend to pick up steam  in 2016……

    with subscription video services such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu gaining viewers while pay TV’s hold on U.S. homes — currently at about 83% — continues to wane a percentage point or two, from 100 million homes to 98.9 million, analysts estimate.

    Here are some predictions for the streaming video arena in the coming year:

    • Netflix will remain dominant. In 2015, Netflix pushed past the 40 million mark in the U.S. and now has 42 million paid U.S. streaming subscribers, and a total of 69 million globally. The streaming-TV leader has nearly twice as many original series planned for 2016 — 30 compared with  2015’s 16. Newcomers are expected to include Marvel’s Luke Cage, a companion series to this year’s series Daredevil and Jessica Jones. Netflix also has 10 movies in production. Also in 2016, its deal with Disney will bring The Avengers and Star Wars film franchises to the service, although Star Wars: The Force Awakens, won’t hit Netflix immediately because it first goes to Starz under a deal with Disney that is about to end.

    • Other top names will pick up their games. Amazon is also increasing its lineup of original series.  Its well-received The Man in the High Castle earned a renewal after a successful November. It has discounted subscriptions to apps from Showtime and others as part of its $99-per-year Prime service. Amazon and Hulu, which has joined Netflix and Amazon as a creator of its own original content, will retain their solid spots as Nos. 2 and 3 in streaming subscriptions.

    The top three services have “too much momentum and (there’s) too much ground to be made up by alternatives,” said Brett Sappington, director of research at Parks Associates.

     

    Still, recent entrants such as HBO Now and Showtime “are attractive services for non-sports viewers looking to cobble together a viewing experience,” said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst at the Leichtman Research Group.

    In fact, analysts at The Diffusion Group note that usage of stand-alone HBO Now combined with the HBO Go app, which requires pay-TV authentication, would put HBO in the top three — a sign that individual direct-to-consumer offerings can succeed.

    • More Net video players will emerge. Look for new entrants to join HBO Now and Showtime, among pay-TV channels that will opt to stream directly to consumers. Some pay-TV providers themselves will offer streaming services, too. Comcast’s Stream service, launched this summer in Boston and expected to go nationwide in 2016, lets Xfinity Internet customers pay $15 monthly to stream a bundle of local and national networks, as well as HBO, on devices. “There will be a flood of a new generation of OTT services, with many offered by large players — pay-TV providers and content producers,” Sappington said.

    This will be driven in part by Nielsen’s ability in 2016 to better measure viewership of so-called over-the-top (OTT) content, says The Diffusion Group’s Alan Wolk. “Once OTT views are measured, no one has any reason to hold it back, in fact, they have every reason to push forward — more views equal higher ratings for networks and more bandwidth” used on Internet services, he says.

     

    • Sony will expand its PlayStation Vue pay-TV service. The consumer electronics giant began operating its own streaming-TV service in March, starting at $50 monthly for more than 50 channels including local CBS, Fox, NBC and Telemundo stations, along with CNBC, Fox News, USA, TBS and USA. Missing? Disney-owned channels such as ABC and ESPN.

    So far the service is available in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, L.A., New York, Miami, Philadelphia and the San Francisco Bay area. Sony will expand to more cities “to see if their current result is driven by the current markets they are in,” Sappington said.

    There is some disagreement at The Diffusion Group about this one, with Wolk and colleague Joel Espelien expecting Sony to fold the project. But the research firm’s co-founder and president, Michael Greeson, thinks Sony will do a makeover instead. “This was a poorly conceived effort from the beginning. It’s just a full-on traditional pay-TV service delivered over broadband — hardly innovative or uniquely compelling,” he said. “I don’t think it will die in 2016, but you may see the strategy changed dramatically as Sony comes to term with poor uptake.”

    “Cutting the Cord” is a regular column covering Net TV and ways to get it. If you have suggestions or questions, contact Mike Snider via e-mail at msnider@usatoday.com. And follow him on Twitter: @MikeSnider.

    Savings guru Matt Granite explains which television streaming service might be right for you and your entertainment budget. VPC

    BobLee
    • wolfbuff Reply
      4 years ago

      I have been predicting for years that the inflated salaries of professional athletes will implode on itself at some point. I’m just not so sure that cord cutting is going to be the trigger. Ultimately, consumers pay for what they value. And there are a lot of fans out there willing to pay to watch their favorite sports teams. ESPN will eventually go all-in on streaming media as consumers do the same. How fast that will happen is debatable. There are regulatory, standards, and the messiness of free enterprise issues still to be worked out. But I digress. From conversations I’ve had – and reading some of the comments here – consumers are willing to pay more than the $6 they pay now through their content providers to ESPN. As long as ESPN and a handful of broadcasters remain the dominant carriers of sports, people will pay to watch it, meaning the leagues they watch can command top dollar for the broadcast/streaming rights, which means players can command top dollar to play it. This will sort itself out as consumers will decide what sports get broadcast and how much they want to pay the athletes. Apparently, car racing fans don’t want to pay as much as they have been. So the racing industry may have to adjust, consolidate, or fold altogether. Bowling, horse prancing, they use to fill space but nobody watches will probably disappear from major mediums as well. Who knows, maybe attendance will go up at these events for their respective aficionados.

      College sports, on the other hand, is a different dynamic. It doesn’t operate by the same free market rules pro sports do, what with Title IX, public funding, etc. Something obviously has to give there too. They can’t keep operating in the red. I don’t know what the trigger is or will be, but I imagine there will eventually be a handful of haves competing semi-professionally and a majority share of have-nots who will see the light, stop the madness, and compete at a lower level “for fun.” If that happens, the NFL and the other professional sports leagues that benefit from the free training that college sports provides will either come in and take it over or create their own minor leagues. That will be the trigger that ends big time college athletics as we know it today.

      I don’t know, I’m rambling. Bottom line, there are a lot of scenarios and ways this could go. Certainly, broadband internet will play a part in the redefinition of sports. But there are other factors too.

      • BobLee Reply
        4 years ago

        There IS a sea-change coming for consumers for sure. ESPN and/or FoxSports, TBS, et al going to an ala carte option will, as you say, still get A LOT of takers; but not nearly as many as all those non-sports fans forced to pay that $6 up to now. … I don’t see cable-cutters ever coming back.

    • Geek49203 Reply
      4 years ago

      I’ve worked in the auto racing world off and on for years. To recap their business model — they take advertising dollars (aka “sponsorship”) and pay for the teams. They also get big TV deals, paid for by advertising. And finally, they still get fans in the stands — but those numbers are roughly half of what they once were — where the fans see advertising all over the place.

      All of that comes undone if the TV part comes undone. They’re already suffering from losses as advertisers move to other mediums (that would be “internet” ads), but this is a direct death threat. IndyCar is heavily dependent on Disney/ABC/ESPN, and as we’ve documented, they’re running with stunning billion-dollar losses right now. NASCAR is dependent on Fox and NBC, but more and more of those races go via cable. F1 will be dead in the USA if it can’t do a cable deal.

      IndyCar people told me directly that they know their future is Pay Per View (PPV). And as a warm up, every minute of Indy 500 practice was available via streaming Internet. Sports car racing now is a streaming Internet thing now with the possible exception of a very few races.

      So the lesson is — if your sport is advertising and TV dependent (that would be you, NFL and BTCS) then your world is gonna change. What we’ll see is a return to the pre-sponsor days of every sport, where precious few events are on “free” TV — although this time we don’t have to go to the theater to see the PPV.

      And it all starts the minute that the NFL starts streaming every game, and we can get around the last reason most of us hang onto cable.

      • BobLee Reply
        4 years ago

        And now with umpteen entertainment options, the % of “addicts” to any sport is less than before. The rapid demise of NASCAR viewership in just the past 3-5 years is a harbinger of a fickle public.

    • Michael Reply
      4 years ago

      Although Playstation Vue has announced a deal with Disney (including local ABC and ESPN), it hasn’t been implemented yet, probably because of local licensing issues. Sling has AMC and all the ESPN networks (and I have used its credentials for logging into Watch ESPN successfully), but it’s image quality seems to vary between SD and bad 720i.

      Playstation Vue credentials now can be used with most of Apple TV apps, so that will work for me as the final step in cord-cutting. Once they get ESPN, which I hope is very soon.

      My problem is that Apple TV doesn’t carry Playstation Vue, but my Amazon Fire TV does. I’m skeptical that Apple and Sony will ever get together on anything, but who knows. Amazon is planning to put it’s app on Apple TV, so that’ll be good.

      I think we’re getting very close to having the choices for cord-cutting. If I get Playstation Vue with ESPN, plus Hulu, plus Apple TV apps, plus Amazon Prime, I can save around $30 a month over my cable subscription. My subscriptions to HBO and Showtime would be a wash, although I can shut off each when I don’t need them. For example, I only watch Showtime for Homeland and a couple of other shows, and I can shut it down now for 6 months. Same with HBO (though I’m getting into John Oliver which may impact my thoughts).

      I tried Playstation Vue for a month, and I really like the interface, and that was using a dumb controller on my Playstation4. On Amazon Fire TV, it’s much easier to use.

      I can’t wait. Every month we get better and better choices.

      • BobLee Reply
        4 years ago

        The whole “industry” is almost changing by the hour. None of the changes seem to the advantage of ESPN which has long enjoyed that mandatory $6/mo from every cable/dish subscriber. I will likely still choose ESPN from an ala carte menu as many will.

        • Michael Reply
          4 years ago

          I’m sure Disney and ESPN have huge equations that maximize profit by price. I wish I were an ESPN economist, it must be a fascinating job.

          But, I’d pay, al a carte, $10-15 for ESPN alone. I’d want Fox Sports (plus FS1 and the regional college sports networks), paying say $5 a month. I’d be set.

          • BobLee Reply
            4 years ago

            The $$$ ESPN has lost from cable-cutting was paying the inflated salaries of several talkers and a few dozen behind-the-scenes folks. IF their new profit plan calls for greatly reduced “rights fees” to NFL, NCAA, NBA it will effect pro player salaries and college AthDept revenues… especially the latter.

    • Brent Reply
      4 years ago

      I am eager to hop on the Apple TV / Roku / whatever train, I just need someone to come to my house and show me and tell me what to do. Also, when your wife has to watch her HGTV so she can catch every episode (5 times over) of Flip it Flop, it’s hard to not pay for some level of service as those channels are sometimes only offered on premium packages. By the time you buy the streaming device, keep some level of package to get certain channels, pay the fees to be able to stream ESPN3, pay for high speed internet, it seems you are only saving $40/month or so. Is it really worth it then?

      • BobLee Reply
        4 years ago

        That dilemma is ever-changing. Many of the most popular cable channels – HGTV, Food Network, History, etc – ARE now offered via Apple and Netflix. The 500 lb gorilla is ESPN. The many tentacles of ESPN are still only available thru a cable/dish network. If/when ESPN goes “a la carte” it will completely change the cable TV biz. Netflix is a simple $9/mo charge for viewing on a computer… or with a one-time purchase of a Roku or Apple TV device ($100 or less) to watch Netflix on your TV. Yes, there are some initial costs to be factored in.
        .
        The other factor is programming ONLY available on Netflix, et al such as House of Cards, Luther, Sherlock, etc. Most of that is considered “better” than standard network options in the way that HBO and Showtime have exclusive options. More and more of those “only available via” offerings are in the works.
        .
        We “might” go to 2-3 “movies”/year so our TV is our primary entertainment source. We don’t have a dedicated “Home Theater” but we do upgrade our TVs every few years.

        • Michael Reply
          4 years ago

          Although there are FOX, NBC, FX, ABC, ESPN and other apps on AppleTV, they’re really not that useful if you’re a cord cutter. They require that you log in with your cable company credentials, so if you don’t have a subscription to those channels (say you’re only getting internet), then you can’t log in.

          Moreover, licensing is all over the place. I can use my Charter Spectrum to log into FX (which is really important), but not log into NatGeo or the History Channel.

          There is one advantage for these apps, at least on Apple TV. They allow access to a whole current season of a show. My OnDemand function on cable or Hulu only allow access to the 4 most recent episodes (mostly, thought that’s changing). So, I do use the Apple TV apps for FX a lot, because I wanted to binge Fargo and The League over the Xmas break.

          • BobLee Reply
            4 years ago

            Agreed…. We use Netflix mainly for their own programming – House of Cards, Luther, Sherlock, Miss Fisher Mysteries, etc. I likely will not “cut my cable” because I do enjoy some of the live sports programming on ESPN especially College Football and MLB.

            • Michael
              4 years ago

              I’m a huge college football and basketball fan, having gone to a Pac-12 university.

              Once Playstation Vue has all of the ESPN networks (like Sling does), along with all of the Fox Sports college networks (I didn’t even know they existed), I’m going to be in heaven of College Football. If they get the Pac-12 Network, I may never leave the house.

              Which reminds me. There aren’t a lot of choices for the NFL if you cord cut. I’m trying to figure that one out.

            • BobLee
              4 years ago

              Your AD is not happy if you “never leave the house”. 🙂 …. I watched 4-5 college games every Sat this Fall but never attended one in person. My NFL interest has dwindled A LOT. My NBA interest even more so.

            • Michael
              4 years ago

              NFL has dwindled for me, but I don’t mind the NFL Redzone. It stays on the background.

              NBA is irrelevant. NHL is slightly above irrelevant. So we’re in agreement. But both of these leagues have pretty sweet apps (I believe designed by MLB), so anyone who wants them are set.

              MLB is very important, but the MLB.tv app gives me everything I need. Along with ESPN.

            • BobLee
              4 years ago

              MLB.tv is TERRIFIC. Only used it for last 1/2 of season ($45)… but will re-up next July again. Love having local announcers (St Louis) rather than networks guys. Only Blackouts for me are Balti and Atln.

    • John Higgins Reply
      4 years ago

      Streaming is great, except streaming will require better internet. For me, the only internet access I have is DSL through telephone lines (too slow) or high speed internet (through cable company.) If I choose the cable company to stream, they will just shift fees from cable to internet. Nothing gained there.

      Until alternatives for lower cost high speed internet are available, streaming is just a future possibility.

      • BobLee Reply
        4 years ago

        That may be true in areas such as yours where Internet options are limited. If I chose to use my “wireless provider” (ATT) solely for cell phone and Internet and not “cable TV” our bill would be substantially less. The growth of fiber optics availability in less populated areas is probably inevitable I would imagine. … but maybe one of the reasons you choose to live where you do is “the advantages of doing so”… less people congestion and the inherent problems that brings. Life is a series of trade-offs that seem to evolve as our needs/wants change.

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