Written by: Jeff Kagan Pay TV has been changing for decades, but nothing has come close to the changes we’ve been seeing during the last several years—and what we'll see over the next several years. Let’s take a closer look at the growth path for both the pay TV industry and the new Streaming Services like AT&T HBO Max, Disney+, Comcast NBC Universal Peacock, Apple TV+ and more.Streaming TV Services is an on-demand model and potentially the next big thing that could transform the entire pay TV industry. Then again, it may not. Perhaps it will be just another slice of the pay TV pie from which customers will have to choose. We’ll see. It all depends on how well it’s marketed, how well it competes and whether customers embrace it both short-term and long-term.Streaming is a brand-new idea and big-name companies are just getting started. Because it’s new, while I think short-term it will be a success, we simply don’t know yet whether it will be successful during the long-term—and if it is, which model will work best for which companies.Providers like Amazon.com and Netflix have already jumped in, but they are not the heavy hitters in pay TV historically. Not like HBO, Comcast, Disney and so on. In fact, Apple is not a pay TV player yet either.
Streaming TV could be disruptive, like watching TV on mobile devices over wireless networks.Providers of these services are counting on it. And these are big companies with powerful brands and big budgets. They have desired content and powerful brands. Whether it is successful long-term depends on what it costs the user and what they get for that cost. Plus, how well the service is delivered.AT&T acquired HBO and owns WarnerMedia. That means they have the most in-demand content in the industry. Because of that, their HBO Max streaming TV service stands a great chance of being an instant success when it launches.Comcast NBC Universal Peacock streaming service will also launch soon, and they also have content. So, they too could be successful right out of the gates. Plus, they are starting with a paid and non-paid version. The non-paid version will be advertising driven.
Disney+ has loads of content as well. Just think of all the Disney movies and content you’ve watched over the years.Apple TV+ is starting small and hopes to build over time. They are not an entertainment or pay TV company. So, they have to build their presence.Amazon.com, Netflix are other companies in this space as well. They have been offering services for a while now. However, these are not the big brand names in this space.That said, we can expect this streaming services market to continue to grow over time with more providers and more content and more models.
Initially, I expect this will be a success. Users will choose which providers they want. In fact, I expect many users will have an interest in more than one. There will be plenty of users who want to see the content of all players.While that is great news for investors, that can get expensive to the user. Because of that fact, I think streaming services will likely evolve over time. Making it more affordable for the user while still making the investor happy.Remember, success has to be measured in the short-term and the long-term.What customers may want is a new kind of service which gets them all the content from all the services. That does not exist yet.So, it’s all about the economics of this streaming services sector. Coming up with a model that wins for both investors and users.Streaming is a new category. So, I believe there will be changes at it matures. Changes in offerings. Changes in pricing. Changes in bundling. Changes in service providers.These changes, however, will take some time to play out.Initially, I see these streaming services, especially HBO Max, Peacock and Disney+ being successful. Apple as well, though since they have little content at this point, I don’t see them making a big impact initially. Amazon.com and Netflix will continue as well.Some providers will offer free versions and paid versions.
Next, perhaps multiple providers will strike a deal giving their customers access to other networks. It could be at a lower price for users than buying all these services separately. It would all work on the same service, so users won’t have to learn different operating systems.That would let users buy one service, get access to all services and pay less—and all the services will profit.The bottom line is this. We don’t know what tomorrow will look like with streaming services. This is the first time we are entering this marketplace.
This is the experimental phase and over time, all providers will experiment with different prices and content and partnerships.Either way, don’t worry about losing your traditional cable TV or pay TV services. These are what most customers still use today, and it will be that way for a long time.Streaming services are brand new and while they may have a large impact on pay TV going forward, the change will not be mandatory and will take time.I think for the foreseeable future, streaming TV will be another slice of the pay TV pie.
In this first phase, I see the big new winners as HBO Max, Disney+ and Peacock. Apple will also be successful, although they don’t have much content yet.What the long-term success story is, still has to be written. It all depends on the direction the industry takes going forward.Remember, Streaming TV Services are a new pay TV technology and they are just getting started. It will change over time as it tries to find the right model. This is exciting especially since we really don’t know what the best model is. This is a greenfield project for the industry at large. Now is when all the experimenting starts.
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