There are many things that make life without pay TV seem impossible for many. However, day-by-day the foundations of the operator relationship are being eroded one subscriber at a time by new OTT services and options.
The possibility of life without a DVR was highlighted again for me ironically enough by TiVo. The company announced a new portal called TiVo Online, which is free to both subscribers and non-subscribers. Non-subscribers can use the site to search for and discover new shows to watch. Subscribers can also watch the content stored on, and available through, their TiVo DVR.
One of the nice things about TiVo is the new OnePass feature which centralizes all the places where a particular show is available. This includes OTT services like Netflix and Hulu. TiVo online provides a similar feature, though Hulu seems to be only OTT service supported in TiVo Online. As I was trying the new portal out, I noticed that many of the shows I had recorded on my TiVo DVR (an over–the-air predecessor to the new Roamio line) were also available online in Hulu. Which made me wondered if I really needed the DVR at all! Of course, I can’t skip ads with Hulu and not all the shows on my DVR are available there, but it’s getting closer every day.
Netflix has done something that pay TV operators could have, and probably should have, done with their TV Everywhere portals. Marriott has reached agreement with the SVOD giant to allow people staying at its hotels to watch Netflix on connected televisions in customer rooms. Apparently, the hotel chain did research and realized many customers no longer want to use the hotel pay-per-view system. Instead they are streaming video on laptops, playing games on smartphones and reading on their tablets.
Marriott incorporated several SVOD services into its smart TVs as part of a test, and discovered over a quarter of guests logged on and used them. Netflix was by far the most popular of the services, and the company is now rolling it out on smart TVs in all 300 of its U.S. properties. Marriot figures this is a convenience to its customers because they can put Netflix on the TV while they multitask on their devices.
AMC is going after horror fans with its new OTT direct service called Shudder. The company launched the Shudder website for the service and those people that registered at the site are getting private invites to join a beta test of the streaming service. They’ll find more than 200 movies to watch ad free, and AMC is also programming a linear channel called Shudder.TV. Once the free beta period is over the service will cost $4.99 a month, or $49.99 a year.
It is not any one of these new services that suddenly makes life without pay TV possible for a large number of people. It is the steady drum beat of introductions that turn one pay TV subscriber at a time into a potential cord cutter.
Why it matters
In any given week, there are several video-related announcements of new content options, service features and functionality upgrades available over the Internet.
Each one of them is eroding the value proposition of pay television.
Here are three from just the last couple of days that attack the functionality, benefits and content available via a pay TV subscription.