A la carte TV

The time for a la carte TV has come!!! The days where consumers spend $200+ a month on a channels they don’t watch will soon be gone! Truth be told, there are probably only 5-10 channels you watch on a regular basis. A la carte TV means viewers would be able to select the individual channels they want to pay for and ignore the rest. While we already have Netflix, Amazon on Demand, Hulu and others, in the past few weeks two major players have stepped onto the playing field: HBO and CBS, with a phenom called going Over-the-Top – media lingo for being able to watch TV with only a broadband connection.

As you can imagine, the top cable companies in the US (Time Warner, Charter, Cox) are not happy about this shift. But… where have they been? Surely they have not noticed the cable-cutting trend? Gfk, a market research firm, estimates that 19% of American TV households live without cable – and that was a year ago! IMHO, the best hope for the Big 3 cable companies is to do whatever it takes to ensure the sports community, namely the NFL, does not play ball with the a-la-carte TV business model but this is no small feat. The NFL’s nationally televised schedule includes broadcasting on ESPN, FOX, NBC and CBS. From CBS’s website:

“Some sporting events, including NFL coverage, are not available for live streaming through CBS All Access. We are continuing to work towards offering more live programming as part of CBS All Access.”

This is an important fact because the #1 reason people do not cut the cord is to get access to sports. Sure, if you’re a Verizon customer, you can watch the NFL via their mobile app, but Verizon Wireless’s market share is decreasing in the US. The company very well knows this and is launching it’s own a-la-carte service in mid-2015. Another key player, may be Apple, who is expected to leverage it’s Apple TV to serve as the “hub” for a revolutionary TV experience, fueled by a-la-carte programming.

While the big-players duke it out over the next few months, it will also be interesting to see how smaller channels like BET, Vh1 and even BRAVO fare out in the new a la carte TV business model. And by big players I mean Apple, the NFL, Verizon, and Walt-Disney (owner of ESPN).  Of course, you can never really count out mega-players like Microsoft and Google! I already told you about a deal between the NFL and Microsoft to get Surface tablets on the sideline and as tensions between companies and sponsors rise (see NFL-Bose-Apple, LA Clippers-Apple-Microsoft), would the NFL team up with Apple on a TV? Given recent tensions, I suspect not, which is probably the strategic alliance that most consumers would want. No one really knows how the alliances will shake out, but what we do know is that the race is on!

Exciting times for a techie like me!