Traditional television providers such as Comcast, Cox and DirecTV are quaking in their boots these days. The average savvy consumer is no longer interested in spending $150-$250 a month for their internet and television packages. Consumers want choices on whom they get their television from, and they want choices for channels and packages that make much more financial sense. These new consumers are “cord cutters,” and cord cutters are changing the way we watch television, rapidly.
Sling TV was one of the first to market, and offers tiers starting around $20 a month, and their service, like the majority of others, is available on every device you have. PlayStation Vue was next to market, followed by YouTube and Hulu’s live TV packages. AT&T, parent company of big cable provider DirecTV, saw the future, and last year launched DirecTVNow. This new service is offered as an AT&T product even more so than a DirecTV product.
For the last several months, most of these services were all neck to neck as far as offerings, with most offering some channels but not all. CBS-owned channels seem to be the bottleneck on the majority of services, with channels such as Showtime and CBS being the most difficult to acquire. This has left consumers, like me, to subscribe to CBS All-Access and Showtime app to catch up on shows like The Big Bang Theory, The Affair, and most importantly, live NFL games. Unfortunately, none of the cable cutting Live TV packages offer the DirecTV satellite exclusive Sunday Ticket, so watching football is limited to a few games on NBC and Fox. CBS All-Access offered live NFL games in their app last year, and that solved more games for huge NFL fans like myself.
Earlier this week, in a surprise to almost everyone in the tech community, DirecTV has announced the acquisition of the CBS channel lineup, and will be including those channels in their DirecTV Now packages, with Showtime available for a small additional fee each month. This is huge, as DirecTV Now has now leap-frogged every single competitor in one move, with the biggest array of channel selection available. If DirecTV renegotiates their deal with the NFL for Sunday Ticket and begins to offer it on DirecTV Now as it is rumored, that will be game over for the other cord cutting options, and for big cable providers in one move.
DirecTV Now has also announced a cloud-based DVR service beta testing now, and 4K support and pausing Live TV coming next year. The 4K support is huge, because that will support the Roku 4K devices currently in the market place, as well as devices from Amazon, and the newly-rumored 4K 5th gen Apple TV expected this fall. 4K content will assumingely be limited initially to video on demand, but the move to 4K sports broadcasts will be another nail in big cable’s coffin.
I am confident the other providers will catch up on channel breath like DirecTV Now, but as of today, DirecTV Now is the cord cutters’ smartest choice with a lineup rivaling even the best traditional cable companies’ lineups. The quality of the interface looks great (needs work though on Apple TV to be closer to functionality with Hulu and Netflix on their video player), and the picture quality is stellar. Most channels are broadcast in 960P, and a move to 2160P (4K) will be stellar.