This is the news cord cutters have been waiting for! This week, HBO announced that they would soon begin to offer HBO via internet streaming in 2015. HBO already has a way for subscribers to watch their favorite HBO shows online with HBO Go. But, with this new streaming option, it gives people who are cord cutters a way to watch Game of Thrones and their other favorite HBO shows, without subscribing to cable. The folks at HBO wants to remove all barriers to people who want HBO, and they are doing just that! Plus, with the service only expected to cost around $10-15 a month, some people are going to want this! This news is exciting like that classic HBO in space opening sequence.
But, that’s not all! This week, CBS also announced that they will begin offering CBS All Access. For $5.99 a month, you can see all of your CBS shows the day after they air on TV. The service will also offer CBS classics like Star Trek, Cheers, I Love Lucy, The Griffith Show, MacGyver, Brady Bunch, and more. The service will offer a live stream of 14 local CBS affiliates with more coming soon. And if you like Big Brother, the service will offer 24-hour live streaming of the camera feeds. Right now, NFL games are not included, but CBS is talking with the NFL. And with HBO offering an internet only streaming package, expect Showtime to offer one very soon!
Sure, some people are extremely happy to hear this news, because they think we will soon have the option of cutting cable, and going the internet route only. Some people are already doing this. But here are a few problems. One, the cable companies are not stupid, and they are not dumb. The big reason why we have the net neutrality debate to begin with is because cable companies see the people cutting the cord. And they want to re-coup their lost revenue by starting internet caps, re-structuring how we and the content providers pay to be online, and in turn would force sites like Netflix to increase their rates, and soon it would cost more to subscribe to Netflix and Hulu Plus, instead of subscribing to cable.
Two, streaming sports is another thing you mostly can’t do, unless you watch some illegal stream online. Yes, some leagues like MLB have ways where you can watch their sports online, but you have to deal with the local blackout. But other sports like the NFL does not have ways to stream games, unless you are subscribed to NFL Sunday Ticket. Here in Alabama, most people cares about their college football. And since most games air on ESPN or SEC Network, you must subscribe to cable to see the games online. Sure, some people who are cord cutters might go to a friend’s house or to a neighborhood bar to see their favorite teams play, but going to the bar adds up fast, and it would soon cost more than subscribing to cable.
And three, it will soon cost you more to cut the cord than subscribe to cable. When you add the costs up with Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, HBO service, and the CBS All Access, that’s close to $50 a month. Add that cost to your monthly internet bill of around $50-60 a month, and you are paying over $100 a month. In some cases, you could subscribe to cable and internet for the same price. And, the cable companies are already adding internet caps, where you are charged extra if you go over your monthly cap. At first, cutting the cord might have been cheaper, but down the road, I believe it will cost people more to cut the cord than subscribe to cable.
No, I do not work with a cable company, if you were asking that! I see the new options from HBO and CBS as a way for people to stop pirating their favorite shows, and watch them the legal way. Yes, I think this is the beginning of the end for the cable monopoly. This news should be good for the consumer, because it gives them more ways to watch their favorite programs, so you might see some bills go down for a change. But, unless we deal with the ballooning costs for sports, cable rates will never go down, and you will continue to see more people cutting the cord to avoid paying sports overcharge fees.
There is also the issue of the availability of internet bandwidth. Streaming shows takes up a lot of bandwidth, and it’s easier to carry a video feed than an internet feed over your cable lines. To free up some bandwidth, you could see some channels you see today disappear. Yes, I think we have way too many channels on TV today. You could take away 1/4th of the lower rated channels, and no one would miss them. That bandwidth could be used to make the internet bandwidth better! But don’t expect that to happen anytime soon because channels are bundled.
Back to the streaming story, if ESPN offered a streaming only service like HBO is going too, the amount of people cutting the cord would shoot through the roof, and it would strain local internet networks with the increased bandwidth usage. What I would like to see is cable companies offer a package with unlimited internet, DVR, and the most popular TV networks, for a low price. That way, people can record their favorite shows from the most popular networks, and watch what they would miss from the lower watched networks online.
But I don’t see that happening anytime soon, and this will result in higher bills, more people cutting the cord, and more people illegally streaming and downloading shows online. No question, the old model of cable TV is slowly fading away. But the United States does not have the internet bandwidth available for everyone to stream shows online. So what is going to happen 10 years down the road, who knows?