2016 continues to be the year of the cord cutter as people leave traditional pay TV for the freedom of online streaming. Streaming and on-demand companies are tripping all over themselves in a headlong rush to be the source for content in a post-cable-TV world.
As part of this scramble to cater to cord cutters, several big name companies are working on live streaming services similar to Sling TV and Netflix’s on demand services. Let’s take a look at some recent developments.
New services slated for late 2016 and early 2017
Hulu has long been known for its next-day TV shows as well as its growing library of movies. Now Hulu wants to be known as the place to watch your favorite cable channels live. NBCUniversal, Fox, and Disney have all signed up to start offering add-ons to Hulu that will give you a live feed of their channels, according to reports confirmed by the CEO of Hulu.
Details are still thin, but Hulu’s new streaming service is expected to launch no later than early 2017.
Right after Hulu’s announcement of live cable channel add-ons, word came from Bloomberg that YouTube was also planning to launch a service that would allow viewers to watch TV networks live. YouTube already has a live streaming service, as well as the equipment to make it work, but they need to strike a contract with content owners. Reports that YouTube does not currently have the needed content deals in place seem to be correct, but that could change at any time.
The launch date for the new YouTube streaming service has not been announced, but it is expected the service will start sometime before 2017.
Direct TV and DISH Network have long fought it out for your dollar in the old traditional pay TV world; now, they want to fight it out for your streaming dollar in the new cord-cutting TV world. As part of Direct TV’s announcement that they were going to take on Sling TV by offering their own streaming service, they included information on three different streaming plans. However, I wouldn’t put too much stock in what was announced in 2015, as the service is not expected to be available until late 2016 and word is, Direct TV is reconsidering how they will offer the service due to new competition.
Yup, your cable company does not want to be left out. Comcast, Charter, Cox, Time Warner Cable and others are all busy building streaming services for their areas. The catch to these services is you have to subscribe to their specific internet plan to get access.
Although it may seem like an odd idea for a cord cutter to buy streaming service from a cable company, the local channels they include are not options most streaming services offer. If you live in an area with poor over-the-air TV, a $10 streaming service to gain access to local channels may be worth it for you.
Currently, many cable companies are beta testing these services in select markets with plans to roll the services out to new markets over the next year.
What about new on-demand services?
While details are still thin, we do expect many online streaming services to introduce more on-demand content, with or without live streams. Currently, we know that CW, AMC, ESPN, and TCM have all stated they are seriously working on a stand-alone service similar to CBS All-Access, which gives viewers on-demand content and maybe even live feeds in some markets.
We have no solid details on when or what they will offer, but many expect that by the end of 2016, several major cable channels will start selling directly to cord cutters.
So why are companies desperate to cater to cord cutters?
As recently as a year or two ago, executives at major content and cable companies played down the possibilities of cord cutting. They bashed it even while companies such as DISH Network were busy building Sling TV for cord cutters.
The explanation for cable companies reversing their stand on cord cutting is simple: they are losing money. In 2015, over 1.13 million people in the United States cut the cord. That is four times the 2014 increase in new cord cutters and all indications are that 2016 will see an even larger number make the switch. This makes for an estimated $5.1-billion-dollar business of which everyone wants a piece. Cable companies have reluctantly accepted that cord cutting is happening and now they’re embracing it as they fight for your dollars.
Even as some companies like Comcast try to hold on to their traditional cable business, others see where the money is going and are scrambling to keep up. If they are to be successful, they need to rush headlong into the cord-cutting world.
Ultimately, all this competition is a good thing since consumers benefit from having more options to choose from in regards to both providers and content while also lowering their monthly expenses. If you haven’t already cut the cord, it’s the perfect time to consider doing so. We wrote a guide covering four easy steps to break free from cable TV to get you started.
What are your thoughts on these new developments? Let us know in the comment section below.