As cable dies a slow death at the hands of the internet, there’s been two huge tent poles holding it up. HBO, and the NFL.
You can’t get HBO or the NFL unless you pay for $100/month cable subscription getting hundreds of channels you don’t want, need, or care to need to navigate through. These tent-poles have kept many people I know from leaving cable for the life of a “cord-cutter” who uses the internet, Netflix, iTunes, Amazon Prime, and the like to replace it. It’s all on demand, it’s not paying for what you don’t want, and it’s available on all your devices. HBO has made several statements relating to sticking with the cable providers as they bring in a mountain of cash. Many said it’d be years and years before they left the safe mountains of profit provided by their cable contracts.
I often told others that Google or Apple or Amazon would dish out whatever huge bucks were needed to lure HBO into the new world. I’m glad I was right, and I didn’t expect it so soon, due to the climate as of late.
Apple introduced the tanned skinned HBO CEO, and he stepped on the stage and stood apart from the far more polished Apple execs, reading his lines off a prompter like a man who’s never been to an Apple event. He didn’t present like a preacher, but he hit a home run for that audience.
HBO announced for the first time their entire library and back catalog on demand available in April in time for new seasons of the their best shows. This is all exclusive to Apple, its devices, focusing around Apple TV, which had a price drop announced from $99 to $69.
Of course they didn’t announce how long this service, called “HBO NOW,” will stay exclusive to Apple, but it won’t likely be too long till you’ll be able to get it everywhere.
HBO NOW will be priced higher than Netflix ($7.99/month) at a slightly more premium ($14.99/month).
One of the major pillars of cable has collapsed, but I expect cable to be around for a long while yet. An interesting note in this saga is that the word on the street for the last few years has been that this year, 2015, the NFL’s long media rights contracts are up. The second pillar may fall this year as well. If I was Google, Amazon, Apple, or Yahoo -I’d pony up whatever it took to steal the NFL’s contract away. Can you just imagine if the NFL was live on Youtube? For us cable cutters, that’s heaven. It won’t be easy or cheap for these tech companies to achieve. The NFL media rights are the most expensive media rights of any property of any kind in America.
One last thought: the reason I’m so bullish on cable cutting and using on-demand streaming services like Netflix is that it changes the TV couch potato paradigm. I quit the lifestyle of always-on TV fifteen years ago, and when I visit folk who leave the TV on in the background of life, watching crappy shows they admit they don’t like “but it’s on”, it makes me crazy. There is so much more to life. Use TV like an appliance to be brought out for its task rather then letting it soak up far too many hours of your life. The new on-demand model of TV where you don’t schedule your life around TV but are master of your own time, helps us treat TV better in my opinion.
Still not sure I’ll subscribe to HBO NOW. Well, that’s a lie, I’ll for sure pay for it on an odd month to watch seasons of amazing shows. I’m just not sure I’ll keep that subscription regularly like I do Netflix.