Unwilling to be left in the dust, DirecTV, the number one satellite television service, is considering a move to offer streaming video content, similar to Netflix.
Ten years ago, no one thought Netflix would be able to actively compete with Blockbuster Video, let alone emerge as the industry leader in streaming content. In fact, the former mail service rental house has eclipsed mighty Comcast in subscribers since shifting its focus from providing rental discs to streaming content directly to their customers’ televisions or computers.
Formerly the preeminent video rental chain, Blockbuster Video now serves as a cautionary tale of ignorantly maintaining the status quo, while others work to innovate. While BBV was still pushing VHS, and mulling the inclusion of DVD (let alone Blu-ray), the chain was simultaneously holding the back door open for competitors willing to think beyond the next big thing in physical media, and seriously push on demand content services. For its part, Blockbuster failed to foresee and subsequently overcome the might of its red envelope competitor, Netflix. Now, other content providers such as DirecTV are looking to cut the pioneering and ambitious company off at the pass.
Since DirecTV’s main competitor, Dish Network, recently gobbled Blockbuster Video up for $320 million dollars (though Dish Network says they’ll likely end up shelling out somewhere around $228 million in cash). Many wondered if the number two company in the satellite television game could save the flailing Blockbuster franchise. The real question should be: can Blockbuster help make Dish Network number one? If following in the footsteps of Netflix is the goal, then yes, Blockbuster just may. By providing access to a large number of on-demand movies, and the name recognition of Blockbuster Video, Dish Network has a powerful weapon in their hands. In response to the inevitable streaming content its opponent will likely unveil, DirecTV has begun to consider a streaming service of his or her own.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, a survey released by DirecTV suggests the television provider is considering the possibility of a flat-rate streaming-only service – similar to the one Netflix is heavily promoting at the moment.
The survey states:
"The service would allow you to stream thousands of movies and television shows over a broadband Internet connection to your television, computer or tablet. The content available would likely be past season of current shows as well as older TV series and older movie released (released more than five years ago)."
While that sounds almost verbatim to what Netflix (and other content providers) are currently offering, a spokesperson from DirecTV recently warned:
"It does not mean we are necessarily moving forward with anything contained within the survey, but merely checking in on the consumer mindset to keep our business strong."
In a similar move, cable television provider Comcast is not taking the news that Netflix has usurped its user base lying down. The terrestrial purveyor of all things TV announced today that it was finally adding FOX and ABC to its video-on-demand service, becoming the only pay-television source to offer current episodes from NBC, CBS, ABC and FOX. That means that the day after they air, programs like Castle, Glee, Community and NCIS are available to subscribers at their leisure.
The move is clearly intended to gain the advantage over their rival satellite competitors, but also to deal a blow to services like Netflix.
Comcast general manager of video services, Marcien Jenckes, said:
"This makes us different from any of our competitors. People are still watching the majority of TV on the TV. This points to the growth and the potential of our video-on-demand service.”
Video-on-demand, and streaming content certainly look to be the future of television. Like any good business, the television industry is quickly moving to where people are putting their hard-earned dollars. Those speaking with their wallets are saying they want their content on their terms: what they want, when they want it. Now, it seems, television providers are finally listening.
As DirecTV’s plans to offer content via a streaming platform progress, we will keep you posted.