Television is still a popular event in many households today, but it’s not just centered around the television sets as it was from the 1950s to the 1990s. In the 2000s with the advent of YouTube and other video services, more and more people were beginning to watch television shows and other video content on their computers and laptop computers. In the 2010s, live television and on-demand services can be accessed via anywhere with an Internet connection. Thanks to the advancements of powerful mobile phones and tablets and faster and more reliable Internet connections, consumers can access live television and on-demand services away from their television sets and virtually anywhere they choose.
TV Service – The Challenge
The consequence was that conventional television providers such as broadcast television and even cable and satellite television providers have had to adapt how they serve up their content to their viewers and subscribers, as just offering packages on the traditional television does not work with many consumers today. Viewers want to be able to access their content from virtually anywhere. In addition, they want to access their content virtually any time they choose, as most are quite busy and don’t want to have to set aside a specific time period for their favorite show, as this may not be possible or convenient.
Another key reason why cable and satellite providers in particular have had to adapt to consumers is because many consumers want to “cut the cord” when it comes to subscribing to traditional cable and satellite packages. Many consumers want to save on costs, especially after the US financial crisis in 2008. One of the common cutbacks they look to remove from their budgets is the cable or satellite subscriptions, since those subscriptions add a sizable amount to the monthly budget, anywhere from $50 to $200 or more per month.
TV Service – The Result
As a result, broadcast, cable, and satellite providers have had to invest much money and resources into capable websites and apps that can hold their content and that can be played back when the viewer or subscriber chooses to access it. This is why IPTV and Streaming TV have become much more prominent in our world over the last few years. Many people are taking advantage of watching their favorite shows at their convenience, even watching whole seasons of shows in one “binge sitting,” something that was not possible just a decade ago.
The cutting back of cable and satellite subscriptions led many content providers on those cable and satellite subscriptions packages, such as HBO, to start offering their content online via their own streaming apps and selling them outright to consumer. Many consumers started utilizing this option to still get access to their favorite shows while still cutting the cable/satellite cord, thereby saving significant money each month.
As a response, cable and satellite operators started offering their own streaming service packages that included a number of premium content providers like HBO, Showtime, Epix, and others as a way for these cable and satellite operators to still have cord-cutting consumers and others as customers without having them subscribe to traditional cable/satellite subscription plans. The fact that Internet connections have become fast enough to reliably stream video and audio content into people’s homes on various consoles/platforms and on mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones have led many people to take up the streaming offerings provided by these cable and satellite operators.
Streaming TV Providers
This is a key reason why DISH Network started Sling TV and DIRECTV has started and focused more on DIRECTV NOW; they want to ensure that they still have a prominent position in the future of television, now that consumers are demanding more choices in what specific channels they have access to and being able to access those channels virtually anytime and anywhere via an Internet connection, even if they are away from home.
Sling TV offers packages for as low as $20 per month, far lower than virtually any traditional cable or satellite subscription package, even those of the lowest-tier. In fact, Sling TV has trademarked the phrase “A La Carte TV™” to show that consumers have more choices when selecting the channels they want as part of their channel package. Sling TV allows you to choose a basic Orange (single-stream and 30 channels) or Blue (multi-stream and over 40 channels) package, then add in channels based on a certain genre, such as news, sports, comedy, lifestyle, kids, or Hollywood content. You can also add such premium channels like HBO or STARZ for an additional cost ($15 and $9, respectively). Additionally, Sling TV allows you to stream that content on virtually any device available – from Apple TV, Android TV, and Amazon Fire TV to Roku, Google Chromecast, and XBox One.
DIRECTV NOW is DIRECTV’s comparative offer to DISH’s Sling TV in that you can stream over 120 live channels and access over 25,000 on-demand titles without signing up to a traditional satellite subscription. DIRECTV NOW is working to include more local affiliates from across the country, now having at least one local affiliate streaming on their service in 75% of the country. DIRECTV NOW allows for simultaneous streaming on up to two devices at the same time, enabling a household to access content in more than one location at one time. DIRECTV NOW offers HBO, Cinemax, STARZ, and Showtime as premium channel options you can add for an additional fee. Similar to Sling TV, DIRECTV NOW can also be accessed on many different devices and browsers, including Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Chromecast Built-In TVs, select Roku models, devices running Android 4.4+ or iOS 9.0+. DIRECTV NOW can also be accessed via Chrome browsers running version 50 or higher or Safari browsers running version 8 or higher. Note that unlike Sling TV, DIRECTV NOW does not as of yet directly support Android TV or XBox One.
Acorn TV is a streaming service that shows content from countries such as Britain, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, and Canada. Specifically, this company focuses on certain genres of content, including mysteries, comedies, documentaries, and dramas. Some of the shows that are offered include Loch Ness, The Commander, Newton’s Law, 19-2, Boomers, and Decline and Fall. Acorn TV provides a free-week trial (which almost every streaming TV provider offers, with some like DIRECTV NOW offering a free month), and they provide the content commercial-free for $4.99 per month or for a discounted $49.99 per year.
Also like many providers, Acorn TV is available on many devices and platforms, including on Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, various Apple devices such as the iPhone and the iPad, on various Android devices, via Google Chromecast, directly online via a Web browser, and more. Acorn TV provides over 1,800 hours of programming, including 60 shows that are exclusive to Acorn TV. Acorn TV is currently available to customers in the United States and Canada only.
One of the most prominent streaming TV content providers today is Netflix. This company started out in the DVD sale and rental business in 1997, but started providing streaming content in 2007, and even began streaming its own series, House of Cards, in 2013. Streaming content they provide include various movies, television shows, and documentaries from several content providers, including the first non-US run and second US run of the new Dynasty series.
Netflix has three main subscription plans: Basic, Standard, and Premium. The Basic Plan currently costs $7.99, allows you to stream on one screen at any time and is in Standard Definition (SD) only. You do get the first month free, can access unlimited movies and TV shows, and can watch on your TV, laptop, tablet, or phone. The Standard Plan currently costs $10.99, allows you to watch available content in High Definition (HD), and allows you to stream on up to two devices at one time. The Premium Plan currently costs $13.99, allows you to watch available content in Ultra HD (a.k.a. 4K HD), and allows you to stream on up to four devices at one time. You are allowed to downgrade or upgrade your plan at any time, and you are also allowed to cancel your plan at any time, as you are not obliged to sign any contract as you would with traditional cable or satellite subscription packages.
Hulu is another growing streaming service content provider, and like Netflix, is also investing in creating its own series, such as The Handmaid’s Tale, as well as negotiating with other content providers to offer their content on their streaming service. For instance, you can only watch Seasons 1 and 2 of AMC’s Fear The Walking Dead on Hulu. Hulu has its own standalone streaming service where they give you 30 days free, then has a special one-year price of $5.99 per month, followed by $7.99 per month thereafter. This plan will allow you to access Hulu’s streaming library that includes Hulu Original series, TV shows (including full seasons for some shows) from various content providers, classic and the latest movies (such as Spectre 007), and more. Premium channels such as HBO, Cinemax, and Showtime can be added to your plan for an additional cost per month. All content can be streamed on virtually any device, and you can upgrade, downgrade, or cancel your plan at any time.
Hulu has recently begun offering Live TV along with its own streaming library for $39.99 per month. This offering is in Beta mode, and there is a 7-day free trial. You can watch Live TV online via Apple TV (4th generation), Amazon Fire TV, Roku, iOS devices, Android devices, Google Chromecast, and XBox. You can stream over 50 Live and On Demand TV channels that include entertainment, sports, and news. Again, you can add such premium channels like Showtime, Cinemax, and HBO for an additional cost per month, and you can upgrade, downgrade, or cancel your plan at any time.
Amazon Prime Video
Amazon Prime Video is Amazon’s own streaming content service, originally provided as a benefit to Amazon Prime membership for $99 per year, but has now been offered outside of an Amazon Prime membership to consumers at a cost of $8.99 per month. Like other streaming service providers, Amazon has put money and resources into creating their own exclusive series, including The Man In The High Castle and Inside Edge, along with series you can only see on Amazon Prime Instant Video, including The Tick, Tin Star, Downton Abbey, and The Americans. You can also see various Nickelodeon content like SpongeBob SquarePants, along with various movies like Spectre 007 and Terminator: Genisys, as well as Amazon Original Movies like Manchester By The Sea and The Lost City of Z.
Amazon Prime Video can be watched on many devices and platforms, including many different HDTVs, Blu-Ray players, and streaming media players. The Amazon Fire TV is able to access Amazon Prime Instant Video, as is the PlayStation 3 and 4, XBox 360 and XBox One, the Nintendo Wii and Nintendo Wii U, and the Amazon Fire TV Stick. You can also watch your Amazon Prime Instant Video content on most Apple and Android devices via the Amazon Prime Video app. Amazon Prime Instant Video is also available on most Roku TVs, as well as most Roku and TiVo set-top boxes. You can also watch via almost any Web browser by logging into your Amazon account on the Amazon website and watching from there as well.