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.

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6 responses to “Slowly Moving Towards Cord-Cutting”

  1. John Burnette says :

    On the other hand, I can’t wait to drop Netflix, given their very limited offerings. House of Cards, and the fact that we’re piggy backing on Nathan’s account, are the only reasons I’m still a member.

  2. John Burnette says :

    I think the future belongs to a blended model such as Amazon’s Prime. One price for the “all you wanna watch” buffet, but often makes you pay for the current season of the show they now have you addicted to. Add on to this the ability to stream a much more extensive catalog of titles and it’s very easy to ditch cable (and Netflix).

    You can only watch so much video. If you spend the monthly price of a typical cable bill, you’d be hard press to find enough hours in the day to watch all you could purchase.

    • Graham Burnette says :

      I think you have exactly the right insight when you write “You can only watch so much video. If you spend the monthly price of a typical cable bill, you’d be hard press to find enough hours in the day to watch all you could purchase.”

      Since we only have a limited number of hours to watch video, I would rather pay for exactly what I want to watch (and only what I want to watch) rather than being forced to pay for a full slate of channels or for a “all you can watch” buffet.

  3. John Burnette says :

    I’m also a fan of public access TV, which has me wondering why crowd sourcing options haven’t opened up yet. One sees a huge number of indie bands all happily gaining traction, steadily growing their fan base with each new release — all through crowd sourcing. Is the cost of video production simply too prohibitive to do this effectively?

    • Graham Burnette says :

      What you describe IS happening. YouTube Channels and video podcasts are exactly what you describe – independently produced video content that can succeed with a small audience.

  4. Cricri says :

    Netflix is available in France since 2 or 3 months. I tried it 3 weeks ago and dropped it today. Very limited offerings indeed. No editorial, and I couldn’t find more than one interesting documentary. And no House of Cards.
    Meanwhile I listen to many podcasts.

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