Slowly Moving Towards Cord-Cutting
A news story hit the wires this week that was largely overlooked but will, I think, be considered a watershed when we look back on it a few years from now. HBO, a company that got its start to make cable TV more attractive by showing near-first run movies over cable, announced that it will begin to sell its programming over the Internet during 2015.
Companies like Netflix have built their success on so-called “cord cutters” – people who don’t subscribe to cable or satellite for video programming. They limit the viewing to over-the-air broadcast TV and internet offerings (both legal and pirated). Acclaimed shows like HBO’s Game of Thrones have kept many people paying for cable. In essence, viewers buy a package of channels that they don’t want from Comcast, Time Warner, or Direct TV in order to get the one show that they do want. Once , HBO begins to sell those programs directly to viewers, that system significantly unravels.
I can easily see a day in the not-too-distant future in which only “events” like live sports and award shows attract subscribers to cable. And even those events will soon be available without a cable subscription: Major League Baseball has already begun streaming every baseball game over the internet, and ESPN recently announced that it would begin experimenting with streaming NBA games.
Cable and satellite companies have long exercised the worst of monopoly power – constantly raising rates and providing very poor customer service. I know of no one who likes their cable provider (as compared to customers who adore Apple, Google, and Amazon). So as soon as people can see what they want without dealing with that hated cable company, I believe there will be a rush to leave them.
And I’ll be right there in the rush.