On the heels of the NBA’s new TV deal that would allow ESPN to stream NBA games to non-cable subscribers, HBO has finally announced their long awaited plans to make HBO Go available as a standalone service, no longer requiring a premium cable subscription. These two announcements in such a short span make it clear that the dominos are starting to fall, and it won’t be long before all of the other content players follow the lead of HBO and ESPN into the direct-to-consumer streaming space. And considering that two of the most sought after networks no longer require a pricey cable bundle, the consumer exodus from cable TV is likely to accelerate as well.
The current pay-TV business model of buying and aggregating content is faltering, as cable continues to lose subscribers. Many networks have lost subscribers faster than cable TV itself, as some shave the cord rather than cutting it, so those networks are now scrambling for new paying subscribers and new eyeballs to put ads in front of. They need that audience far more than that audience needs cable bills that often top $100 a month. Among content creators, there’s clearly a demand for a service that can aggregate an audience, which is exactly what Rabbit TV does. Rabbit TV has 3 million paying subscribers who largely are mostly not cable subscribers, but who have shown willingness to pay for quality content. ESPN and HBO Go are both at the top of every cord-cutter’s wish list, and Rabbit TV will be first in line to give it to them, along with a wide range of free and premium content from across the internet. For consumers, this is a boon, and cutting the cord becomes more attractive with every network or studio that takes their content over-the-top. With the big players like HBO and ESPN making the jump, the floodgates are open for others to do the same.
Consumers have been clamoring for à la carte cable bundles for years now, in hopes lowering monthly bills by ditching unnecessary channels. They’ve also been watching more and more video on their mobile devices, though largely with the exception of the cable programming that they pay for. Now the networks are starting to go over-the-top, consumers will finally get what they’ve long been asking for. Consumers who want à la carte channels will soon have the option to ditch cable entirely and subscribe to standalone services from their favorite networks, essentially achieving the same thing, and likely at a much lower cost. But that doesn’t mean that they’ll have to log into multiple different websites just to watch their favorite shows. The cable company of the future won’t serve as an intermediary between the consumer and the content that they want to watch, but rather an aggregation point where users and content from different sources come together, an element that is essential to viewers and content providers alike.
HBO’s CEO Richard Plepler has said that this service “will be transformative for our company.” In reality, this move by HBO will be transformative to the television industry. Content delivered over-the-top is becoming the norm. Cable TV is already seen as a pricey luxury that many people don’t need, but soon it won’t even serve any purpose when the internet can offer the exact same content both cheaper and more easily than cable ever could. FreeCast Inc is leading the charge and making that future a reality, and when HBO and ESPN are on board, as early as next year that future could arrive.