It's been a long time coming, but it appears the impossible is happening in the telecommunications world: nationwide competition.
Cutting the Cord
Many have already chosen to cut the cord when measuring their viewing habits versus their monthly cable bill and finding it to be grossly mismatched. And with the rise of Netflix, Hulu and Amazon, the big cable giants have already found some decent competition that has forced them to put their most popular shows on those new alternatives. Unfortunately for those cable cutters, however, the cable companies still ruled the roost and there was no worthy substitution for live television viewing. Now, that has changed as a variety of companies - from Sony to Dish Network - have entered the fray to offer live streaming of television through the internet.
End of an Era
These companies are recognizing the pseudo-end of an era where people no longer feel the need to have the choice of 600 channels, rather preferring an "a la carte" model where the big channels like ESPN and TNT are no longer "Trojan-horsed" with channels they might never watch. And they want to watch it not on their big screen televisions, but on their phones and tablets and laptops. The cable giants, as giants are prone to do, have been slow to react to this shift and have allowed these smaller foes to swoop in with juicy alternatives for wanting consumers. Analysts at New York based BTIG predict that cable providers could be forced to come up with their own live online streaming packages, or risk bleeding even more subscribers.
This new war over eyeballs for television services will inevitably fall over into a battle for Internet subscribers which has yet to see the sort of competitive evolution occurring in the cable television space. Indeed, the recent multi billion dollar acquisition of Bright House Networks by Charter signals the recognition by cable companies that they must swallow up cheaper online services in order to not be completely snaked out of the game. Comcast, Cox and Charter will all drive towards consolidation in order to prevent slashes in their profit margins that would occur if they are not anywhere between the channel, the Internet, the live streaming service and the customer.
Even as the cable giants attempt to push out cheaper alternatives to high speed internet, they will still have to compete with each other over cable TV. This has been almost absolutely out of the question in the past as the cable companies considered it unreasonable to spend billions only to compete in service and price with another cable company. Thus, there was only one option for many consumers. Now, for television, there's another.
More competition is already putting pressure on cable companies to lower prices as subscribers to their packages has fallen for a second straight year. The average monthly bill for cable television is $87. Dish Network's Sling service which offers live streaming of the big channels, like ESPN, is offered for $20. Something has to give. And the cable companies must not only compete with cost, but with service as the American Customer Satisfaction Index has television and Internet providers ranked last for customer happiness among all industries. And companies like Comcast have long been ranked one of the worst in the world when it comes to customer service. Generally, people don't like talking to Comcast, so maybe they'll stop completely now that there are more fish in the sea: from Dish to Sony, with scarier competitors like Apple and CBS promising to offer alternatives soon.
The future is here. Now is the moment for the cable companies to join the times.
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