For longer than I can remember, I have railed upon the giant cable TV machine that we, as consumers, should be able to pick and choose the channels/programming that we want, rather than have to suffer the presence of MTV and Cinemax just to get local channels, ESPN, and a few other entertainment and education options. I thought it should be like a Chinese menu of sorts, from which you pick and choose what to add to the very basic menu. But now I see this vision coming through in a way I never would have predicted. I’m sure others saw it this way, but I didn’t, and this is one of the many times I am very happy to be humbled and wrong.
Yesterday, HBO announced that early next spring, you’ll be able to stream HBO programming from and to whatever device you choose, a la Netflix. This makes me very, very happy. HBO is taking a big chance here, knocking down the wall of consumer-first programming without the need for an idiotic $100+/month cable TV subscription. Full disclosure: just a little over a year ago, we cut the cord at our home, and have since relied on a robust internet connection through a ROKU 3 to support Netflix, HuluPlus, and Amazon Prime Instant Video. The only thing I have ever missed since this change has been, and continues to be, LIVE sports. I managed to stream the UGA game a few weeks ago through my computer and my Google Chromecast.
Now that HBO has made their announcement, I fully expect others will follow. CBS has already, and announced their pricing of $5/month. So here you have the potential for your Chinese menu. I would choose perhaps 2 of the three mentioned above – we don’t use HuluPlus nearly as much as Netflix and Amazon – and add in a couple of sports, news/local, and education channels, and still be paying less than half of our former cable TV bill each month. The best part is I am choosing what I want to receive, as opposed to the free-loading garbage channels (MTV and similar ilk) getting a free ride into my home.
While this is bad news for Netflix, since their perceived semi-monopoly on the streaming market place will go away rapidly, the folks that run Netflix have proven very crafty. I’m sure they are hard at work figuring out how to be the Google of streaming services, rather than the Microsoft of consumer software.
Where are you on cable TV vs. streaming services? What “channels” will you choose when your internet service provider is once again reduced to “dumb pipes”? Thank you HBO, for breaking down a silly, monopolistic barrier to consumer choice. Well done.