Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Cable TV’s Dumbest Habits Will Make the Leap to Streaming

Karl Bode, Techdirt:

In many ways, the streaming TV revolution is finally delivering many of the things that consumers had been begging for for years — more flexibility, better customer service, and cheaper overall packages. Thanks to increased competition, streaming is finally forcing the sector to adapt and actually listen to customers. At least for now, when a flood of competitors are jockeying for market share.

At the same time, many of the same annoyances that have frustrated consumers for years will also be making the jump to streaming, including a steady parade of price hikes with little in the way of notable improvements for your purchasing dollar. Annoying “retrans disputes” — where a broadcaster and cable TV provider will bicker over programming and blackout out user content (without refunds) in the process — have also come along for the ride. That’s before you get to ISPs abusing their monopoly power over broadband to disadvantage competitors, the whole reason for the entire net neutrality fracas.

As soon as cable TV providers figured out that they, too, could put a bunch of video files in an Amazon S3 bucket, streaming services stopped seeming like the future of entertainment and instantly became just a mild adaptation of legacy providers’ existing models. Even cost-wise, I’m not sure streaming services really are that much cheaper. It depends on where you live, but in Canada, you’ll have to stitch together offerings from half a dozen subscription services to get a similar selection as a typical cable TV bundle, and it works out to a similar price. At least you can choose to a more granular degree what you want to pay for.