For decades, cable has roped in millions of customers like me with the promise of hundreds of channels and thousands of shows. But in my 15-plus years as a subscriber, there’s one thing I’ve watched most: my bill.
Every month I pay it, and every month I think of cutting the cord. The reason is that there’s never anything good on—unless you’re a fan of The Shawshank Redemption (which is probably on two channels at once), or one of the 19 shows based on storage units. Or pawn shops.
Years of this feeling has brought people like me to a slow boil and caused them to pull the plug on their pay television. In the last quarter, 527,000 subscribers cut the cord. In the three months prior, more than 750,000 people cancelled their accounts—the industry’s worst stretch yet. It seems the only things stopping the rest us from defecting are hassle, uncertainty and incentive.
And tech companies are on the verge of changing that.
Over the past year, streaming video services have become very popular—you’ve probably signed up for a couple yourself. In fact, in the past 12 months, Amazon Prime doubled its subscribers to more than 80 million accounts, even if many of those are just in it for the free shipping. Netflix, meanwhile, has more than 50 million accounts, and it’s not trying to sell you dog treats, batteries, and shampoo on the side. Those numbers are impressive, especially since there are currently 48 million pay television subscribers in the U.S.
Still, Netflix and Amazon, while great, aren’t true television alternatives. From Bosch to Bloodlines, they keep up with (and even outpace) the age-old, network-and-studio system when it comes to original content. But neither offer live programming yet (though Amazon has recently inked deals with the NFL and pro tennis’s ATP World Tour in the U.K.), which is key for news and sports coverage, cable’s biggest selling points.
Live streaming is worth watching
For streaming video to eclipse pay television, it needs to offer live broadcasts, a feat several new online services have recently achieved. They offer a mix of live channels with on-demand content and special features like cloud-based DVRs. So far, these services have received mixed reviews. But they’re still in their early days and worth watching.
Source:: Time – Technology