Cable television systems thumbed noses at Senator John McCain’s call a couple of years ago for unbundled content options, but consumers have responded to a wider marketplace of real-time choices and technologies.
Live streaming server remain one of the main lures to pay for bundled cable TV, but the landscape changed this year. Sling TV, for example, announced deals with ESPN, TNT, TBS and CNN. Other media giants have deals in the works.
Playstation Vue, HBO Streaming and Amazon Prime represent an emerging marketplace for new consumer choices.
Most new television sets have built-in smart TV interfaces that allow connection of Netflix and other accounts. We had been watching Netflix on laptops and tablets, but decided to buy an inexpensive Apple TV box to connect to an older TV and sound system.
For sports fans, Apple TV has MLB, NBA and other highlights, as well as paid premium content options. For news junkies, the CBSN and Sky News channels offer reasonable options to CNN and Fox News. At the same time, Apple TV is poised to emerge with what some have called “a slimmer bundle” of major channels for a lower monthly fee than cable.
The real race to the bottom is for completely unbundled content. Google’s YouTube has offered inexpensive channel subscriptions and pay-per-view movies. Young viewers raised on the iTunes 99-cent song model expect high choice and low cost. In short, they demand a true marketplace.
Roku sells the new television model as “choice and control.” Another popular option is Amazon Fire TV, which also offers a similar to Apple and Roku content menu.
For many consumers, live streaming for sports is the thin thread keeping them connected to cable, yet it is now common to hear that, as a Facebook friend concluded, “it’s tough to justify (a $100 per month or more cable TV bill) for the live sports.”
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