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Streaming vs. Cable TV: Consumers Are Winning In the Battle

Cable TV companies and streaming video providers are battling it out to offer the best subscriber experience
 Streaming Video Providers vs Cable TV Industry: Who wil..

Written By: Linda Hardin

Today’s technology advances can be heard, felt, and seen by users of all ages. One of the most dynamic technology advances is being seen, literally, in television. Although the days of cable and satellite television subscriptions aren't yet extinct, the streaming service providers are working diligently to overtake the cable TV market share and call it their own.

Streaming providers are seeing an increasing number of users—causing cable and satellite providers to see a decreasing number of subscribers. As quickly as consumers use and understand the ease with which they can stream their favorite television shows, movies, and other original content, they're dropping their expensive and prohibitive cable TV and satellite contracts.

Streaming services recognize their growing presence in the entertainment consumption industry and have already started developing keen competitive strategies against their rivals as they jockey for increased market share. Netflix, which boasts 33 percent of peak streaming downloads today, is focused on original content acquisition and reeling in subscribers with content that speaks to their television watching habits. These habits are meticulously spelled out in Netflix’s massive data set that details its 29 million subscribers’ viewer preferences. Netflix evaluates these habits against proposed original content in the form of television shows or movies, chooses the content they believe will be most watched by users, bids on the content, and streams content. Netflix is hoping its original content will bring about the same level of success that HBO saw in the cable TV industry with its highly engrossing and addictive original content in shows like “The Sopranos,” “Deadwood,” and “Sex and the City”.

Netflix's paid competitors generate much smaller numbers: Amazon is at 1.8 percent, Hulu is at 1.1 percent and HBO Go comes in at 0.5 percent. 

However, Amazon isn’t sitting on its laurels and doesn’t appear to be intimidated by Netflix’s large lead in the streaming sector. Taking a different approach to acquiring subscribers, Amazon introduced its own device for on-demand entertainment consumption, the Kindle Fire. Although the iPad remains the most widely-used device for streaming video, the Kindle Fire and Prime membership—which includes thousands of free on-demand movies and television shows.

Cable TV Won’t Go Down Without a Fight

While streaming service providers are strategizing market shares, cable TV providers are organizing efforts to maintain and even gain market share by providing on-demand video options to their subscribers.

Not surprising, HBO is one of the first cable TV contenders to bring video entertainment to their subscribers in the form of streaming. HBO GO is a free service available to HBO subscribers that allows them to stream any original HBO content, any other content in the HBO library, and new movie releases on their tablet, smartphone, computer, video game console, or Internet-connected television. HBO’s EVP and CTO Bob Zitter, expects the portability and mobility of streaming video will dictate how consumers choose video entertainment providers, and Zitter plans to keep HBO at the head of the pack with its HBO GO service.

Zitter isn’t alone in his thoughts though. DirecTV, is also getting in on the streaming action with its iPad app allowing subscribers to stream content without being forced to use a DirecTV box. This fairly new option has been at the forefront of DirecTV’s subscriber demands for some time, and when DirecTV introduced this option in March 2012, it also went beyond the basic streaming option to provide an enhanced user experience with other features. Once DirecTV subscribers install the app on their iPad, they can not only stream video on-demand, they can also pick up where they left off in a TV show or movie on their home television.

Consumer Want What They Want, When They Want It

Although, it’s not crystal clear who—the streaming services providers or the cable TV companies—will win out in the fight for on-demand streaming video consumer market share, one thing is clear: consumers want to be able to choose not only the content they watch, but when they watch it, and how they watch it. As technology evolves, consumers have no problem voicing demands for the ultimate viewing experience—mobile or at home—because they know demands will be met.

So, what do consumers really want in their on-demand viewing experience? Every consumer has varying preferences, but with each preference, there are many options available to meet demands. Even though there's no single-source solution for all consumer situations—at home, traveling, or remote—consumers can easily setup the solution that works best for them.

What if consumers want to watch a video they downloaded on their computer on their home television? That solution is also easy: whether you prefer a wired connection or a wireless connection, you can hookup or setup your computer to stream video through your home television. Using ebeam HD and Asus WiCast, consumers can view whatever is on their computer’s desktop from their TV. While a USB port or an HDMI cable is required, depending on which product is used, the setup is seamless, and consumers can be streaming from computer to TV within minutes.

The war between cable and satellite TV companies and streaming video providers wages on in the on-demand streaming video industry. With no clear winner between those contenders in sight just yet, consumers appear to have the upper hand in this battle—dictating what services they want, where they want them, and when they want them. With those factors in mind, and as technology continues to evolve, it’ll be the fastest and most agile competitor who lands the coveted and lucrative streaming video market share.

About the Author: Linda Hardin is a graduate of the University of Minnesota with degrees in both English and Marketing. Linda has spent her career in content marketing and marketing communications, working for leading B2B and B2C corporations across the country.

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