Television is in its golden age but not all television can suit a consumer’s needs. While cable companies traditionally package channels together for hundreds of dollars a month, streaming services like Sling, Netflix, and PlayStation Vue are conquering the market by providing customers with flexibility and affordability. But despite the rising popularity of streaming services, cable companies like Comcast and Direct TV are still conforming to their “all or nothing” offers for now, leaving many to speculate about the future of the cable industry.
One cable company breaking the cable mold and trying to adapt is Dish Network with its Sling TV service. The service livestreams television from any device such as a smartphone or laptop, and offers packages ranging from $20, with add-ons like a sports package and a kids package available for $5-$15. The service also offers more “premium” add-ons like HBO or Starz for $15 and $9 per month, respectively. Launched in 2015, Sling is proving to be a great success among those cutting the cord, with over 2 million subscribers as of June 2107.
Another platform that has recently gained more popularity is PlayStation Vue, which offers several “slim” packages starting at $29.99 a month for 50 channels—each package tailored for a customer’s interests. Despite the name, PlayStation Vue does not require an actual PlayStation console, as it streams from any device and even offers a cloud DVR.
At the forefront of the switch from cable to streaming are streaming pioneers Hulu and Netflix, who have set the standard for the rising streaming services of today. On top of eliminating the need for satellite dishes and burdensome annual contracts, Hulu and Netflix are now producing critically-acclaimed original content, threatening not only cable companies, but also broadcast networks like Discovery and A+E.
While the threat for cable companies is real (sales have dropped dramatically in the last decade), the death of the cable industry is not necessarily imminent. For networks and cable companies to survive, they must adapt to the evolving consumers who rely on smartphones, tablets, and laptops rather than a television screen. Furthermore, cable companies need to realize that less is more, especially with bundle deals. What’s the point of paying for 300 channels if you only watch a dozen of those?
The rise of streaming services and the ability to watch whatever you want whenever you want is rapidly changing the way we consume visual media. While the death of cable is not imminent, a shift in the cable industry’s infrastructure is inevitable if cable companies want to stay afloat.
By Stephanie Elmir