With HBO and CBS announcing plans earlier this year to go over-the-top with their services in 2015 (i.e., offering their content direct through streaming instead of through cable providers), there’s been a lot of talk about the future of live streaming television, and now it appears NBC’s entering the arena.
As of today, the broadcast network will begin offering its programming to viewers via live streams on computers, with mobile accessibility coming next year… but there’s a catch.
According to Engadget:
Unlike CBS and HBO, you'll need a conventional TV subscription (as with WatchABC) to tune in online.
Given the fact NBC’s owned by cable conglomerate Comcast, it’s not surprising the network wouldn’t be quick to move into an option that would allow viewers access to programming without a cable subscription (of course, it already does since NBC is a free, over-the-air network).
Like its competitors, NBC sees the future of television in live streaming and mobile viewership, but the debate comes in the form of that delivery system’s accessibility.
While HBO’s announcement of over-the-top service wasn’t surprising given the network’s testing of such services for the last couple years in foreign territories, the same can’t be said for CBS. Unlike HBO, CBS is an ad-supported network that makes part of its money from cable subscriptions. For it to add a non-cable delivery system is a big deal; it doesn't just show a sense of progressiveness from the “old person network,” it also shows a willingness to put itself at odds with cable and satellite providers for the sake of consumer appreciation.
Over-the-top is a direct threat to companies like Comcast, Time Warner and Verizon because it’s the last necessary step required for someone to "cut the cord" for good. In the past, if one became a cord cutter, it meant giving up the ability to watch live programming - but thanks to services such as that of CBS’ and HBO’s, that’s no longer true. Cord cutters can now stay current with the rest of world, regardless of provider status.
Whether or not NBC and ABC (as well as the likes of Fox and The CW [owned by CBS and Warner Brothers]) will ever wise up and start offering their networks free of cable providers is anyone’s guess, but there’s a high likelihood of 2015 being a dynamic year for the evolution of the small screen.
We'll keep you updated on the status of NBC, CBS, and the general rollout of "over the top" services in 2015.