It seems like every day those that want to escape from the giant cable companies find themselves with new options that make cutting the cord easier than ever. But in recent weeks, several promising options have come from the most unlikely of sources: phone service giants AT&T and Verizon. Two massive companies that have often drawn the ire of would-be cord cutters now seem to be courting the growing group.
As early as next year, Verizon could launch an internet-based TV service. While the exact details of what the service will include are not yet certain, many are suggesting that it could be TV exactly the way consumers want it. That means channels a la carte, and the ability to watch on multiple devices, all for a reasonable price. Verizon’s plan seems to be a response to the trends in the cable industry and consumer viewing habits. While the cable companies struggle to keep subscribers on high priced plans, other companies like Verizon see money to be made. Verizon is perhaps best known for their wireless service. Their venture into Internet TV is no coincidence, as more and more people are spending time watching content on their smartphones and tablets, rather than in the living room. Unlike the cable companies that struggle to reach consumers on other devices, Verizon’s new service will have a home turf advantage. At comparable prices, a cable plan that you can take with you on your cell phone looks much more attractive to today’s connected consumer than one that only works in your house.
AT&T is also discovering that they need cord-cutters more than cord-cutters need TV service. AT&T already offers their U-Verse cable service, and is moving forward on a plan to acquire satellite TV provider DirecTV, two services that stand to lose subscribers as the market shifts away from cable. AT&T’s solution is much different from Verizon’s. Rather than re-inventing TV, they’re making their own service more attractive to consumers and embracing a common cable alternative. For $40 a month, AT&T is offering broadband internet service, HBO, and a subscription to Amazon Prime. Price is one of the frequent complaints people have with cable. $40 is less than half of the average American cable bill, so many will surely be delighted by the low price. HBO is premium cable-only channel that has often served as the only reason some people have stuck with cable, so consumers looking to save money won’t have to miss out on their must-watch HBO shows. Amazon Prime isn’t just for free shipping from the online retail giant, it also includes access to Amazon Instant Video, a Netflix-like service with movies and TV shows available on-demand. This deal would seem to give consumers one of the few things they love about cable, for a price that won’t break the bank.
As the Internet becomes people’s first stop for entertainment, the door is suddenly open for phone companies to regain relevance. As landline phone usage declined, and cable companies began to bundle cable and internet service together, the phone companies which once enjoyed the same types of monopolies as today’s cable giants found themselves on hard times. But as frustration with cable grows and more media content is delivered via the internet, phone companies across the country have a rare opportunity to reverse the tide, and not just huge companies AT&T and Verizon. FreeCast Inc is currently seeking partnerships with smaller telcos that don’t offer TV service, and offering them a way to do so that doesn’t require any additional infrastructure. With Rabbit TV, or a co-branded version of the service known as Select TV, any bandwidth provider can offer a low-cost TV service to its customers without the massive investment associated with creating a brand new internet TV service like Verizon’s or laying miles of fiber-optic that make AT&T’s U-verse service possible.
AT&T and Verizon have made it clear that consumers will dictate what the next generation television experience and business model will look like. Consumers in control means that days of the biggest and baddest corporations dictating terms to customers who have no other options is over. Rabbit TV has long empowered consumers by giving them access everything the web has to offer, any time, anywhere. Now that same service can empower companies too, giving smaller ISPs the ability to offer an alternative to cable, and giving rural telcos a way to offer TV service in areas that otherwise might not have access to any, all at a low cost, and utilizing existing infrastructure. This fosters competition, which almost always leads to better service and lower prices for consumers, and which has presently been severely lacking in the pay TV industry.