In today’s environment of fervent cord-cutting and Netflix viewing, TV networks are realizing how they’ll have to keep up — by providing over-the-top viewing options for their current and future audiences. In fact, plenty of networks have announced plans to cut the cord in some fashion. And chances are, more will be joining the party.
To clear this up, here’s an OTT cheat sheet of who’s seen the digital light, and is looking to answer:
Arguably the most hard-hitting OTT announcement, HBO’s planned standalone streaming service will debut in the US in 2015 for sure. CEO Richard Plepler confirmed it during Time Warner’s “Industry Day” presentation. HBO’s hinted at making the digital move for a while, mostly by cutting the cord for the HBO Go service in Nordic territories. Now that it’s official in the US, we’ll have to see what that means for Amazon Prime, which currently offers HBO shows like “The Sopranos,” “The Wire,” and “Girls.”
Following HBO’s announcement, CBS recently launched “CBS All Access,” which lets users subscribe to its content without a cable subscription. The service is available for $5.99 a month and streams on CBS.com as well as through the network’s iOS and Android apps. Popular series featured on CBS All Access include “The Good Wife,” “Blue Bloods,” and even old shows like “Cheers” and “Twin Peaks.”
ESPN announced their plans for an OTT service earlier this month, in tandem with its rights deal with the NBA. The service will give basketball fans the ability to watch live games on the internet without having a subscription to ESPN on TV. So far, the OTT service only covers NBA content, and few details have been released about how it will actually work.
Expected to launch by the end of this year, DirecTV’s OTT service is said to be called YaVeo and will cater to Hispansic audiences. This will work thanks to a deal with Univision, which will provide content for DirecTV’s digital service. Apparently, DirecTV is in talks with other Spanish content companies to beef up its OTT offerings.
The network’s CEO, Chris Albrecht, has recently come out with plans for a future Starz OTT service abroad, but he’s also made some strong comments in favor of launching one in the US, as well. The international service will include Starz original series along with outside licensed content in places like the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Latin America, while the network also looks to expand its offerings to cordless households within its home country.
CEO Les Moonves has made some leading statements on the Showtime OTT front. He’s noted the company’s interest in providing digital Showtime packages abroad and in the US. There’s no commitment, here, but talk of unbundling from cable TV packages seems like it’s only going one way these days…
In addition to TV networks, other content owners are thinking of going direct-to-consumer through digital…
Just this month, Lionsgate announced a subscription VOD service coming to viewers in the first half of 2015. The future service comes from a deal with Tribeca Enterprises, hence its name, “Tribeca Short List.” Falling on the higher-brow end of the spectrum, “Tribeca Short List” will feature critically-acclaimed films from all over the globe. Think of the kind of content you’ll find at the Tribeca Film Festival, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what this OTT service will look like.
Cinedigm launched Docurama online this past May, which provides free documentaries to viewers on various set-top boxes, connected TVs, and straight through your computer or tablet. After that, the content owner partnered with the organizers of Comic-Con, Wizard World, to launch the OTT channel Con TV, which is set to debut online by the end of 2014. Content will include the expected, considering the parternship — lots of sci-fi, fantasy, gamer, and anime TV episodes and movies. Cinedigm also plans to purchase more content for the digital service, looking specifically to “Fight of the Living Dead,” which features major YouTube creators like Justine Ezarik and Joey Graceffa.
Though it recently failed at bringing its OTT service to the UK (it’s been delayed “until further notice”), the company’s still managed to provide direct-to-consumer content in over 170 countries. The service goes for $9.99 a month and works on Sony connected TVs, Samsung Smart TVs, and Blu-ray systems.
There are also some virtual internet-TV services to consider:
Having officially announced its plans for a digital TV service, Dish is well on its way, boasting deals with Disney and A+E Networks to deliver their content online. Dish plans on going the way of cheap-and-small, so the packages will be unlikely to include major networks like NBC (and CBS, which is doing its own thing), but what it does offer should go for around $20 to $30 a bundle.
Sony’s plans for an internet-TV service hint at pricing almost as high as a regular cable package. The service would offer smaller bundles of channels than those usually available on broadcast TV, but it would still go for about $60 to $80. Thanks to a deal with Viacom, the service would include MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, and more — not to mention the additional channel they might include after meeting with Disney and Fox.
Verizon’s planning on going above and beyond both Dish and Sony on the internet-TV front. It’s already acquired OnCue, the digital pay-TV service developed by Intel Media, and its bundle will include the “Big Four” broadcast networks, according to the company’s CEO, Lowell McAdam, who talked about what to expect at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference in September. Verizon’s planning something unique, too — in addition to offering broadcast TV channels online, their packages will include content from digital content creators like AwesomenessTV. However, keep in mind that nobody’s promising anything, yet.