The televised will not be a revolution
March 18, 2015 9:16 AM   Subscribe

The changing — and unchanging — structure of TV. A discussion of the television industry, its pieces and parts; how the money flows and the dependencies bind; how it changed with the rise of cable and again with the advent of streaming; and how Apple's rumored web TV service won't save consumers or make Apple much money.
posted by alms (33 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
I don't get these Apple TV rumours - Sling TV by Dish launches and people are pretty apathetic about it. But Apple is rumored to do the exact same service? Oh, well, that's clearly exciting.

If you want this mythical Apple TV product, go subscribe to Sling TV today. Sheesh.
posted by GuyZero at 9:25 AM on March 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


Real stuff doesn't feed the rumor mill.
posted by bleep at 9:41 AM on March 18, 2015


I went to sling TV:
The Amazon CloudFront distribution is configured to block access from your country.
And that is very unlikely to ever change. Apple, though, might eventually bring their service here.
posted by Bovine Love at 9:42 AM on March 18, 2015


Apple may have streaming services outside of the US but it is highly unlikely they will ever stream US networks outside of the US due to content licensing restrictions. I'm not sure where your "here" is, but do not hold your breath for CBS streaming to Canada or the UK anytime soon.
posted by GuyZero at 9:44 AM on March 18, 2015


Just to follow on that point - for example, Netflix is in many countries. But it is a completely different product in every country in terms of content.
posted by GuyZero at 9:44 AM on March 18, 2015


I don't get these Apple TV rumours - Sling TV by Dish launches and people are pretty apathetic about it. But Apple is rumored to do the exact same service? Oh, well, that's clearly exciting.

The major apparent difference is that Apple claims they're going to get three of the four major broadcast networks (i.e., the things that people watch way more of except for The Walking Dead), and Comcast has all kinds of antimonopolistic restrictions on it that will basically force NBC to join in (according to an NPR commentator).
posted by Etrigan at 9:51 AM on March 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Most of the major shows on the broadcast networks are available on Hulu today. Sling's huge win was landing ESPN which is the one element - live sports - that standalone streaming products have lacked to date. Broadcast networks aren't a bad thing to have, but until I see any details on catchup windows and online DRV-type functionality I'll withhold judgement. We'll see if Apple's product gets ESPN as well.

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure it will be a perfectly acceptable product. It's just unlikely to be better than its competitors like the iphone was better. It'll be OK.
posted by GuyZero at 9:55 AM on March 18, 2015


the Sling website has a bunch of links that don't work.

And yeah, if it's not a DVR type thing, what's the point except for sports? The only thing I would even care about live is NFL and even that is fading fast for me as something I give a damn about.

Everything else i'd dvr to skip commercials.

Also, i had a Roku and an HBO Go password. Apparently Comcast doesn't HBO on Roku . AppleTV, ChromeCast, Xbox, whatever - totes fine. But Comcast specifically blocks HBOGo on Roku.

So I'd be interested to see how this plays out with Comcast's loveliness.
posted by sio42 at 10:01 AM on March 18, 2015


But, GuyZero, they will likely make some deal to Canada. It doesn't have to be exactly the american channels. Dish isn't going to bring anything.
posted by Bovine Love at 10:02 AM on March 18, 2015


CBC might sign a streaming deal, but CBC, owned by Bell? Not likely. Rogers has already won approval from the CRTC that they don't have to give non-Rogers subscribes any chance to access the NHL online via the NHL GameCenter app. You literally can't watch hockey via internet streaming in Canada without being a Rogers subscriber. You can't buy it at any price and the CRTC has given that model their blessing.

Besides, Rogers will simply ship their own OTT service since they already have all the Canadian carriage and content deals.

Again, maybe Apple will ship this service outside of the US. That would be nice. Personally I don't see it happening.
posted by GuyZero at 10:08 AM on March 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Whoops, I said CBC twice. The second one should have been CTV.
posted by GuyZero at 10:15 AM on March 18, 2015


I don't watch NHL, but I was under the impression from friends who bought game centre live that they could easily watch it on their AppleTV (which certainly supports game centre live), no Rogers cable required.

I don't see why things like HBO, etc. won't be streamed to Canada eventually. They just have to wait till their current exclusive deals die.
posted by Bovine Love at 10:18 AM on March 18, 2015


The major apparent difference is that Apple claims they're going to get three of the four major broadcast networks (i.e., the things that people watch way more of except for The Walking Dead)

For me (we dropped cable in 2012), most broadcast shows are on Hulu, and if I want to see football, I watch it over the air.

Things that could bring me back to cable (or a streaming version of cable)... Baseball, not having to buy individual episodes of shows like Mad Men and kids shows that my kids like, but that either never make it to Netflix (Doc McStuffins) or takes a while (My Little Pony/Transformers).
posted by drezdn at 10:18 AM on March 18, 2015


Argh, my apologies, I have poor reading comprehension. The CRTC ruling was for NHL GamePlus, not GameCentre.
posted by GuyZero at 10:22 AM on March 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Right now, our local cable company is offering basic cable for half the price of Sling TV. I don't trust them to not put in mysterious remote rental fees and other costs that end up adding up to more than Sling though.
posted by drezdn at 10:23 AM on March 18, 2015


if it's not a DVR type thing, what's the point except for sports?

I signed up for Sling TV about 12 hours after it became available, and to be quite clear: the point is sports. ESPN is the point. They also have TNT, TBS, Food Network, and several other second-rate basic cable channels, but my Sling TV is tuned to ESPN about 90% of the time.

Other than that, what have cord cutters really been missing? My understanding was that, between Netflix, Hulu, and an occasional Amazon Instant Video purchase (or even Prime if you have that), the vast majority of non-live TV has been available online for some time.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 10:49 AM on March 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Stuff like the Oscars has been hit-and-miss. I haven't really looked but I don't think you'd be able to stream most award shows on major networks online without a cable subscription.
posted by GuyZero at 10:57 AM on March 18, 2015


Apple's rumored web TV service won't save consumers

Tell me more about being able to access content via any number of competing services, all of which I can hire or fire at the drop of a hat with no contracts, with no waiting, all of whom have excellent customer service...is not going to positively impact my life?

No really, tell me, I can't wait to hear how I'm not being saved simply because I might spent similar dollars, as if that's all that ever mattered.
posted by trackofalljades at 11:11 AM on March 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


It doesn't need to be better than TV, the way the iPhone is better than its competitors. It just needs to work better, together, with the rest of the ecosystem. That multiplier effect (and consumer goodwill) is something that Comcast will never have.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 11:41 AM on March 18, 2015


Why clog up the tubes, with data that is already transmitted over pre-existing networks, or broadcasted? Putting real-time broadcast tv and cable channels on the internet is redundant.

Seems to me that cable, satellite and broadcast are better suited to provide real-time television channels, and that streaming-on-demand is best left to the internet.

And since the cable providers are the same companies that provide internet access, they are cannibalizing their own business in the shift to digital. Not exactly a win-win, for them.
posted by littlejohnnyjewel at 11:43 AM on March 18, 2015


The article alludes to it, but remember that every advance in OTT delivery of programming that was heretofore delivered in cable and satellite packages is also an advance toward metered wireline broadband. The cable and telco fiber companies are happy to shift the mix of services that generate their EBITDA per household, but they sure as heck are not going to permit their EBITDA per household to decline without a fight.
posted by MattD at 11:52 AM on March 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yes, that was one of the more unhappy assertions in the article:
"Comcast may lose the relatively low-margin revenue they make on TV services, but they will make it back on their exceptionally high margin (97 percent!) Internet service. Moreover, it’s only a matter of time until Comcast switches from speed-based pricing to data-based pricing along the lines of the U.S. wireless industry."
Leave it to the US wireline industry to find new and innovative ways to make their customers miserable.
posted by alms at 12:15 PM on March 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Harumph. Without local cable sports these things don't attract me. However I'm hoping this will be the nail in the coffin that forces traditional cable companies to start offering a la carte.
posted by Gungho at 2:16 PM on March 18, 2015


Without local cable sports these things don't attract me.

I pretty much want ESPN two or three times per year- when the Colts are on Monday Night Football. I wish I could throw in a couple of bucks to just watch those games and be done with it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:40 PM on March 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


sio42: "And yeah, if it's not a DVR type thing, what's the point except for sports? The only thing I would even care about live is NFL and even that is fading fast for me as something I give a damn about. "

I am a cord-cutter who does not have Netflix and receives only 6 OTA channels (ABC with a WB digital substation; NBC; CBS; FOX (with a digital substation that shows nothing but movies starring African-Americans); PBS; and something that shows a lot of televangelists and barely comes in. We've been without cable for 11 years and I actually miss things like HGTV and Food Network and Animal Planet A LOT. I really want to sit and watch them mindlessly and then flip to a channel with 90s sitcom reruns and relax. I also would REALLY like the SlingTV Kids package now that I have kids and would like a few more programming options for them (there's very little on network TV for children).

SERRRRRRRIOUSLY considering SlingTV ... it would still cost less than Comcast to have my high-speed internet and SlingTV, although not much less. But then I remember that I gave up cable for a reason, and that reason is I basically can spend 24/7 watching Animal Planet and accomplishing nothing while paying for the privilege. If Sling were $10/month, though, I suspect I would be ON IT.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:21 PM on March 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


It will be interesting to see how these changes shake down in Canada. The CRTC has sort-of defended Canadian Content for as long as I've been alive, but new technologies are starting to make it look like the muddy mortar in The Fortress of Louisbourg...
posted by ovvl at 6:19 PM on March 18, 2015


but they sure as heck are not going to permit their EBITDA per household

ARPU (Average Revenue per User) is the acronym you were looking for there.
posted by ambrosen at 6:48 PM on March 18, 2015


But, GuyZero, they will likely make some deal to Canada.

Hahahahahahahaha no. At best, they'll offer a very watered-down version.

Bell has its CraveTV streaming service, and Rogers+Shaw have Shomi. These would be in direct competition with any service from the states, and the Canadian media/telcos don't like competition. They own all the rights to everything, the channels and services on which they're broadcast, and the infrastructure it's sent through. They're not going to give up any of that for anyone.

I hate that that's the way it is, but that's the way it is. Save some massive shift in how Canadian media is configured, that's how it will continue to be for the foreseeable future.

Our best hope, I think, is if HBO's new service for cable-cutters proves to be an enormous success south of the border, prompting the channel to recreate that success up here by sitting on the Canadian rights (instead of licensing them exclusively to Bell like they've always done) and profiting from their own content directly. Then maybe other content providers will follow suit.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:28 PM on March 18, 2015


What, you think the US ones do like competition? Rogers is seeing a decline in cable customers (absolute decline, not just slowdown in growth). That decline will mean the content providers are seeing a decline; they will want that back. As exclusive agreements expire, Rogers/Bell will have an increasingly difficult time in getting most favoured nation status, and exclusivity will die, just like it is dying in the states (which has the exact same setup, with even less legal protections for competitors up until this whole title II thing). I don't expect a sudden explosion of flowers and love, but I don't see why Apple won't make deals, and why the content providers won't want to start selling OTT.
posted by Bovine Love at 6:45 AM on March 19, 2015


sio42: I have a first-edition Roku box, still, and HBO Go works fine with it despite the fact that I have Comcast, whose service is pretty meh to sometimes awful on the whole.
posted by raysmj at 7:52 AM on March 19, 2015


Funny enough on the CRTC: Pick and pay: CRTC to unveil changes to how TV channels are packaged, sold - the CRTC is set to make an announcement this very afternoon.

My guess is they will require operators to offer some sort of unbundled service but that existing cable packages won't necessarily be changed of affected. And I think the cable co's will offer unbundling through OTT IP TV services, so expect Sling-type services in Canada at some point although I doubt they'll be any cheaper than plain ol' cable.
posted by GuyZero at 9:47 AM on March 19, 2015


And here's that announcement - cable providers to have a "skinny basic" package that includes local channels, some mandatory national ones (APTN, CPAC), at a maximum of $25/month. Past that, consumers will have the option to pick and pay for individual channels or packs of channels. And you can maintain the existing package you have now, if desired.

Not sure what this really does; I could see going for the skinny basic with perhaps 3-4 additional channels, depending on pricing, which sounds nice, but I suspect the pricing for the individual channel subscriptions will be high. And, of course, they are going to bundle whatever TV packages this creates with their cable and phone services, so I'm not sure how much this really changes anything.
posted by nubs at 3:37 PM on March 19, 2015


raysmj :here's an article where it says they've stopped blocking it as of December 2014.
http://arstechnica.com/business/2014/12/comcast-to-stop-blocking-hbo-go-and-showtime-on-roku-streaming-devices/


I just got a fire stick and hbogo shows as an available app but when you go to activate Comcast/Xfinity is not in the list of providers. That's how it was on my roku. I thought I was losing my mind until I googled and found it wasn't just me. It was and is A Thing.
posted by sio42 at 8:07 PM on March 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


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