I pay too much money for cable TV – way too much. My channel list goes up to the 900s, yet I only watch about 10 channels 90% of the time. Despite all the money I spend on cable TV, I find myself watching more and more video and TV on my laptop, iPad, and mobile phone. But cable TV provides unmatched access to the most content in one place, so at what point will I cut the cord?
Many others are in the same boat as I am with respect to viewing online and mobile video and TV. According to a study performed by Adobe, digital video consumption has grown 30% year over year in the fourth quarter of 2012, video starts on smartphones tripled from 2011 to 2012, and tablet video consumption just beat out smartphones in video starts. One of the largest mobile-viewing events of every year, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, just happened in March and drove record-setting video streams, with usage of their March Madness On Demand mobile app fueling this growth.
The mobile TV ecosystem is complex, and the lines between TV and digital video, and premium and non-premium content, are blurring. Everyone from broadcasters like NBC, CBS, and Fox to distributors like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon are trying to get their piece of the pie. And cable and satellite companies like Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and DirecTV have the most to lose, which is why they try to capture as much value as they can through the TV Everywhere initiative, or even stifle consumption by capping bandwidth delivered through their Internet data services.
The primary competitive advantage these cable companies have is not necessarily choice, but instant access to content. Here’s a great overview of the options available to obtain the content you may want. You can subscribe to Netflix for movies and series and Hulu for broadcast shows and access all this content on your mobile devices, but you’ll have to wait at least a day to watch your favorite shows.
Enter a company like Aereo, which allows you to watch live broadcast TV over the Internet, accessible on any mobile device, PC, set-top box, or TV, for an $8 monthly subscription fee. This service would allow consumers to instantly access their real-time broadcast TV necessities, such as news and sports, at a much lower cost. Aereo has caused an uproar with broadcasters, who have taken Aereo to court to try to shut them down (albeit unsuccessfully) and even threatened to move all of their content to cable networks. And now Aereo even has a doppelganger named Aereokiller.
Consumers are finally realizing that they’ve been dwelling at the very bottom of the TV value chain, and now can take advantage of the multitude of options to access the content they want, on any device they want, at lower prices. But with more options comes more decisions to make, and many consumers currently choose to stick with the path of least resistance and higher cost. So when is enough enough? When will consumers cut the cord en masse and really force cable companies and broadcasters to finally change their business model and cater to their preferences?
What do you think? Has the time spent watching online and mobile video and TV increased for you? Do you think you’ll ever cut the cord, and if so, when? Or have you already? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.
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