Monday, June 8, 2015

Streaming TV Heats-Up

Streaming TV continues to expand into traditional territory more quickly than analysts may have suspected. Both Showtime and HBO now have streaming platforms. Yahoo! Screen not only saved Community from network cancellation, it will make history when it becomes the first to broadcast a live NFL game. Hulu has saved The Mindy Project from cancellation and secured the rights to the entire run of Seinfeld. And Netflix continues to produce more original content, including a revival of the ABC Family classic, Full House. One recent report suggested that companies are now paying more for advertising online than on TV.

Critics - including this one - have bristled at the prohibitive $15.00 per month subscription HBO and Showtime are asking. The leaders in the field - Netflix, Hulu+, and Amazon Prime - all charge less and offer far more. Still, a subscription to any two of these and high-speed Internet is cheaper than basic cable or satellite in most areas. A bill recently introduced in the US would subsidize high-speed Internet costs for low-income households, providing better coverage to more people.

So far, we've only covered subscription services. Networks like Tubi, Crackle, and others use an advertising-based model and are free to viewers. Roku also features dozens of networks that rely on neither model, providing truly free and often original content. Many of these platforms offer a wide diversity of content but some are specific to a genre or niche, and many of these are horror.

One of my favorites is TKN, The Knowledge Network. PBS is another good one that requires neither subscription nor a willingness to sit through commercials. The breadth of networks is amazing, as well, with numerous platforms featuring foreign and independent content. This includes news programs, movies, television, and documentaries. Some platforms feature several channels, like LiveStream and Conduit.

Right now is a great time to get involved, as regulations and competition are sure to increase in coming years. To be sure, things are moving at the cable conglomerates' pace and no faster, but they are moving. While many have a vested interest in seeing things continue in a similar fashion, treating streaming media like cable TV is a bad idea and quite unnecessary. Moving to streaming delivery is a natural evolution of media and it's past time we took the plunge.


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