In what may be a too-little-too-late concession to the popularity of inexpensive streaming subscriptions, Verizon Communications has created a discounted TV package with just a few dozen channels. The package is still a TV plan, not a streaming subscription, but Verizon may be trying to stop the growing numbers of “cord cutters” from dropping monthly TV subscriptions entirely.
While cheaper TV contracts with fewer channels are something consumers have wanted for decades, the introduction of streaming has changed the game, and Verizon’s new offering demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of why viewers pick streaming over traditional TV: They want immediate access to great content, not channels.
The slimmer plan’s $55-per-month price tag is cheaper than the $90 monthly average for TV subscriptions, according to the New York Times, but it is still a far cry from Netflix’s $9 monthly fee. But competition also comes from streaming-only TV services, like the $50-per-month PlayStation Vue and $20-per-month Sling TV. Verizon’s new plan has the advantage of cable and network channel availability–PlayStation Vue has CBS, NBC, and Fox but not ABC or PBS, while Sling has none of the big networks. But subscribers to PlayStation Vue and Sling aren’t locked into a contract–they can cancel at any time. That freedom is important.
As The New York Times points out, Verizon is not letting subscribers have much freedom, especially in terms of channel selection, because that endangers the whole TV ecosystem: TV groups sell bundles of channels to cable providers, and cable providers repackage that to sell to individual subscribers. But HBO Go and the newly released streaming-only subscription HBO Now are perfect examples of individual networks breaking away from hegemonic television to sell content directly to new subscribers.
[via The New York Times]