Consumers are moving increasingly away from linear TV but live broadcasts are still drawing big audiences and online providers are catching on.
Though sports are the most popular content that consumers want to see live, the rising costs of pay-TV services — either bundled with broadband or not — is making US consumers reconsider the attraction of free over-the-air broadcasts.
Despite being available since the inception of TV people have rediscovered free over-the-air television, which has been in decline for decades as cable, satellite and telco operators expanded their networks and services, and generally offered far more channels and content than the available over-the-air feeds (albeit, at a price).
Thanks to the cord-cutting of pay-TV services, over-the-air TV is now viewed by 15 percent of US broadband households, according to one recent industry report.
This is almost double the historic low of seven percent to eight percent of US households reported several years ago.
Predictions of over-the-air broadcast’s demise are at least a decade old, but becoming less likely by the day. It appears consumers have wised up to the fact that they can watch at least a handful of local broadcast US channels (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and PBS stations) in most major areas.
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Who to watch?
Earlier this month at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on-demand website Hulu debuted its pending live TV service, designed to supplement its subscription-based on-demand service with live broadcast TV service of major networks.
Hulu revealed that its service will be priced at under $40 per month. For reference rival Sling’s service starts at $20-per-month, with Vue at $30 (or $40 in markets with live network programming), and DirecTV Now at $35.
Hulu has joined the pay-TV mold breakers with its live TV proposition and is setting itself apart from its big on-demand rival Netflix.
AT&T outta nowhere
In an 8-K filing by AT&T, the telco operator revealed that it has garnered 200,000 new video subscribers for its DirecTV Now service launched in November 2016.
The 200,000 are all paying subscribers and that doesn’t include those on free trials.
DirecTV Now is delivered as both live TV and on-demand and its success highlights the demand from consumers for cost-effectively priced pay-TV service, and their willingness to ditch traditional pay-TV operators to do so.
Going from zero to 200,000 paid subscribers in one month is a very strong start for AT&T’s DirecTV Now OTT service. As such, the debut of DirecTV Now represents a highly disruptive force in the market, no doubt enabled by AT&T’s compelling bundling offers and zero-rating of its DirecTV Now service when viewed on AT&T’s wireless network and devices.