Those who opt for the streaming of their entertainment, sports, and news fare are about to be treated to an even bigger selection of choices in 2016.
The unpopular bundling model commonly used by the cable and satellite television industries is going by the wayside.
What has happened up until recently is that bundling has created a situation in which far too many television viewers have been forced to subscribe to a huge number of aggregated channels that they do not need or desire to receive.
Additionally, programming that may not have otherwise survived has been subsidized by unwitting cable and satellite TV customers.
Average domestic cable or satellite television viewers have 200 channels available to watch; however, according to Nielsen, the number of channels that viewers regularly tune into is only 15.9.
Coercing customers to pay for channels in which they have no interest and/or rarely, if ever, watch is not exactly a sustainable business model, especially in a day and age that offers a multitude of viable alternatives.
This is a particularly salient issue for those who are drawn to politically oriented news media but also happen to be centrist or conservative in their ideological leanings.
As an example, in order to have access to the Fox News Channel viewers have been compelled to also pay for overtly biased news coverage on other networks such as MSNBC and CNN.
This, in essence, has been a tacit sponsoring of channels that feature liberal messaging by those who hold opposing views but have little recourse if they wish to obtain their desired programming.
The good news is that horizons have been broadened for folks who have found themselves facing this type of media dilemma. A streaming device that is capable of accessing a wide variety of Internet-based viewing options is now a reality.
Not only can so-called cord cutters save money by avoiding high monthly cable and satellite television bills, but they can also gain greater control of their viewing choices since delivery is increasingly occurring via mobile devices rather than conventional television sets.
Streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Sling TV, and a growing number of premium channels are now offering a la carte programs that are easily accessible with web streaming devices that include Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV Stick, and Roku.
Interestingly, the cord cutting trend seems to have caused traditional entertainment and media stocks to underperform in 2015, which stands in sharp contrast with companies that have been able to offer streaming content.
Traditional media, of course, have a number of reasons to be greatly concerned. In 2015 the biggest media companies in the world, i.e., Disney, Viacom, CBS Corp., Time Warner, 21st Century Fox, Sony Corp., and Comcast (owner of NBC Universal) lost a total of $50 billion in value.
On the other hand, Netflix shares were up 144 percent and Amazon stock prices were higher by 124 percent in 2015, reflecting in part the move by consumers away from cable and satellite TV toward streaming.
People who watch streaming television are now able to enjoy subscription services such as HBO and Showtime without actually being a cable subscriber. CBS has started an online subscription service, NBC has also started an online channel for comedy, and AMC has one for the horror movie genre.
Fans of professional wrestling can now view World Wrestling Entertainment on a YouTube-based subscription service called WWE network, which is already the fifth most popular subscription video service following Netflix, Amazon Video, Hulu, and MLB.TV.
Disney’s sports giant ESPN, however, has not offered a separate streaming option to the public without viewers having to sign up for cable or satellite services.
Back in the summer of 2015, Disney CEO Bob Iger acknowledged that ESPN was losing subscribers to such an extent that the company had to adjust earnings projections. ESPN reportedly brings in about half of Disney's net profit.
Necessity being the mother of invention, a novel hybrid approach has been developed by Satellite TV provider Dish Network. Sling TV was initiated early last year and features a 23-channel lineup that includes ESPN and costs $20 per month.
The streaming company’s catchphrase is “No long-term contracts. No set-up fees. Easy online cancellation. No catch. No kidding.”
The move to streaming that prompted a sea change in the way entertainment, sports, and news is delivered, will not only continue, it will no doubt accelerate.
A recent study, which was released by the research and consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, found that approximately 20 percent of cable and satellite subscribers were considering cutting their services in whole or in part in 2016.
James Hirsen, J.D., M.A., in media psychology, is a New York Times best-selling author, media analyst, and law professor. Visit Newsmax TV Hollywood. Read more reports from James Hirsen — Click Here Now.
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