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Streaming in the Cord-Cutting Era
A lot of people have been cutting the cord from cable TV and satellite providers to get more flexibility in choosing their content and not having to pay for content they’ll never watch. But the plethora of streaming content providers could create an environment that’s not a whole lot different from the cable/satellite experience. And, you might even wind up paying just as much money, if not more.
We came away from a recent Disney conference with the distinct feeling that Netflix is destined to go the way of Blockbuster, at least in terms of being the only source for content. Remember them? They’re the company that basically had a lock on the videocassette rental market until the worlds of Netflix and On Demand made video rentals as easy as pushing a few buttons on your remote. If you want to rent a DVD, you can order it from Netflix or find a Redbox machine.
Most people, however, prefer to get their video content via the internet, cable or satellite, and those who hold the rights to that content are getting ready to scale up an access war. Netflix, in addition to producing its own content, has also provided feature films and old TV shows to its own base of subscribers. They pretty much had the market to themselves, but that’s changing.
In case you weren’t paying close attention, Disney, which makes films, owns the ABC network and provides sports programming through ESPN, recently bought Fox’s movie studio and many of its non-news TV assets. That means Disney now has a huge library of content, and they’ve already started to move some of into “+” Channels, such as Disney+ and ESPN+. This allows them to stream selected content for a few bucks a month more, and you can’t get it anywhere else.
Disney is not alone. Netflix, Amazon and Hulu all have exclusive content in addition to hours upon hours of movies of all ages and genres. And each has its own subscription fees. HBO, Showtime and a few others still offer movies and original programming, and YouTube and Sling offer packages of TV content now found over the air (remember broadcasting?) or offered by various cable and satellite companies.
Finally, the field is getting more crowded with the entry of Apple TV+ and its original shows and movies.
Regardless of whether your content is delivered through a cable box or streaming internet or both, there will be a lot of hands out there for your money. And in all likelihood, you’ll pay for more content than you want unless somebody decides to offer single events, single movies or a single series of programming.
You’ll have to decide whether to cut the cord based on what you perceive will be your best value. The cable companies have an incentive to keep you because they can sell advertising. They also provide your internet access in most cases, and that gives them leverage in controlling what you pay for it.
The Triple Play packages (TV, internet and phone) are a staple of their business, and many subscribers find their balance of TV content and internet speed. One selling point for the packages is that you don’t use any data to watch the content delivered over the cable. The cable also provides better quality in most cases than high-def content streamed over a Wi-Fi network, though you can build a network to handle almost any need.
Cutting the cord but keeping the internet service could raise costs in two ways. First, if you need more bandwidth for streaming, it will cost more as a stand-alone service. Second, you’ll likely face data caps, which could limit how much streaming video you can watch or the speed at which you can watch it. Of course, more money can mitigate the cap issue, but don’t forget, the content providers are looking for more money for what they bill as premium content.
If you’re highly selective in the premium content you watch, cutting the cord and finding the right internet service may pay for you. But if you need the wider range of choices, you just might want to keep that cord connected.
We can help you make a decision by looking at your Wi-Fi network and the internet capacity you’ll need to support your viewing. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us to discuss your needs and set up an evaluation.