Technology Talk


Netflix Is Making All the Wrong Decisions in 2017

For the past few years, it seemed like Netflix had been making all the right decisions. The company had become the world’s foremost streaming giant. The number of new shows and movies continued to grow at an unprecedented rate, and the company had legions of loyal fans. But then came 2017. Something now seems to be off. Netflix seems to be making all the wrong decisions in 2017.

The most obvious point to start with is Netflix’s plans for global domination. 2017 is perhaps the first year where Netflix’s plans to expand around the globe have become so obvious. Everywhere you turn these days, it seems like Netflix is throwing money around.

Here’s just one example: at film festivals, they’ve become the new big spenders, eager to pick up the best new movies and showcase how they’ve become new players in Hollywood. Netflix paid nearly $60 million for the new movie “War Machine” (with Brad Pitt) and $90 million for the new movie “Bright” (starring Will Smith). And it seems like Amazon and Netflix are buying up everything they can, eager to win some awards. We’re starting to see Netflix movies nominated for major awards.

In 2017, though, this strategy seems to have gone off the rails. One of the big stories coming out of the Cannes Film Festival this year was the “booing of Netflix.” Yes, that’s right, one of the new films that Netflix was showing at Cannes – “Okja” – received boos when the Netflix logo came up on the screen. That’s according to the Los Angeles Times.

Of course, Netflix denies this. Their version of the story is that the film had been experiencing technical difficulties throughout the entire screening, and that the audience in Cannes was not booing Netflix. Instead, the audience was booing the sound and picture quality, and they simply waited for the end of the movie. And that, coincidentally, was the same time that the Netflix logo came up on the screen.

But you can see the problem here – Netflix is no longer automatically the “good guy.” When you get too big, and when you try to change the system, you suddenly become the “bad guy.” From the perspective of the Cannes crowds, Netflix may be winning awards, but they are killing the modern theater. In short, fewer people are going to the movies because of Netflix. Why pay $15 or $20 for a movie ticket when you can just stream it online later as part of your Netflix subscription?

And the French are plenty upset about how brazen Netflix seems to be this year. As a result of Netflix, Cannes has created a new rule saying that any film at the festival must have a French theatrical release. In other words, if Netflix wants to have films represented at Cannes in 2018, it better have a plan in place to make sure those films are showing in cinemas in Paris, Marseilles and Nice!

Moreover, here’s another problem: Netflix seems to care less about what its viewers want, and more about what’s good for Netflix. Ok, Netflix is a publicly traded corporation, so we understand that the company can’t be perfectly altruistic, but it somehow seems like the demands of Wall Street are forcing Netflix into new moves in 2017 that will feed the content machine.

Here’s another example: in April, Netflix replaced its vaunted five-star recommendation engine with a simple Yes/No recommendation. This was basically the Facebook “like” with a single thumbs up or thumbs down. Some Netflix fans hated this. From their perspective, there’s a huge difference between a movie with 3.5 stars and a movie with 4.5 stars. And that nuanced difference couldn’t possibly be matched with a single thumbs up or thumbs down. And, in fact, the New York Post ran a story called, “Netflix Users Already Hate Its New Rating System.”

Here again, Netflix has an alternative explanation. As they see it, people are more likely to give recommendations if all they have to do is give a thumbs up or thumbs down. And the more recommendations there are for a movie, the more likely people are to check it out and watch it. So the whole recommendation process was changed to encourage people to watch more content (but not necessarily better content).

You can see why some people say that Netflix has simply lost touch with its users in 2017. Every decision the company makes seems to be a pure business decision, driven by how it will pad the bottom line and make global expansion even easier. It’s all about the profits.


And that has made Netflix tone deaf in 2017. Here’s yet another example – there’s been a huge online controversy over the Netflix show “13 Reasons Why,” and yet Netflix continues to stand by its position that the show must go on. Despite the huge outcry in public that the film might glorify suicide for teens, Netflix seems to be perfectly OK with having the show in its archive. As Netflix seems to see it, all that outcry is going to be great for viewership. People who might not have watched it are now going to be plenty interested in checking it out.

Another problem that has become particularly acute in 2017 is the whole notion of “going straight to Netflix.” At one time, the idea of “going straight to cable” was the death knell for any movie. It meant the movie was so terrible that it stood no chance of making a decent return at the box office, so the film just ended up on cable TV before the critics could eviscerate it in public. And now the same thing seems to be happening with shows that are “going straight to Netflix.”

Basically, Netflix has so much cash these days that it is re-investing all of it into new content. On the surface, that might seem to be a good thing: Netflix is rescuing the film industry and helping to create the golden age of TV.

But there’s a downside to all this. It now seems like Netflix is trying to become the new cable TV. The company has created so many new shows that it has lost the ability to control for quality. The goal is just more content, faster, and that’s going to have problems later down the line. It’s the same feeling that one gets by scrolling through the listings of a 24/7 cable TV network. There may be a few quality shows, but in general, it’s just a bunch of dreck.

Even worse, what’s good for Netflix is not necessarily good for moviemakers. One little known secret about Netflix – and one that bloggers have been mentioning in 2017 – is the fact that Netflix refuses to share data with content producers. Think about that for a second. Say that you’re a content studio that has just sold a movie or show to Netflix. The only way you will ever get any feedback about how it’s doing is if you hang out on social media, and try to make sense of viewer reactions and blog comments. But you will never get a nice, tidy spreadsheet from Netflix showing the number of views, or any insights into demographics.

So, as a moviemaker, that makes your job harder. You don’t really know how you are doing, or what types of films to make next. Yes, you got a big payday, but from here on out, the only one going to profit from it is Netflix. You’ve become part of the movie churn at Netflix, where the goal is to keep cranking out more and more content.

Moreover, it’s now becoming clear that Netflix is not just changing viewer habits – such as by encouraging the binge-watch – it’s also changing the very structure of the movie industry. If Netflix goes to a major film festival like Sundance and buys up all the best indie movies, then it means those movies will never show up in the cinema. They will go “straight to Netflix.” And now Netflix is going one step further, by buying up potential blockbuster movies. It’s now paying nearly $100 million for a bankable film starring Will Smith. And that means Will Smith is not going to the cinema anymore for a box office payday – he’s going to straight to Netflix, who will write him a nice check. But think of what happens to movie audiences – no more summer popcorn movies featuring Will Smith, you’ll have to sign up for Netflix if you want to see him.

And these films aren’t necessarily going to be any good. Variety, for example, has already called the Brad Pitt “War Machine” movie a “costly flop.” Variety also called it a “dud.” So it’s no longer the case that everything Netflix touches turns to gold, at least in 2017.

So you can see why the crowds (purposefully) booed Netflix at Cannes this year. The movie industry insiders understand how Netflix is changing the industry, even if movie fans at home don’t. And they aren’t happy about it. If you’re buying into the idea that Netflix is doing you a favor by making so much great content available to you, it’s time to re-think that notion. In 2017, it appears that Netflix has been making all the wrong decisions. They’ve lost touch with the average movie fan, and we’re going to get a backlash soon. In fact, it might have already started.


Why Sling TV’s New “Traditional Guide” Is Working

In late May, Sling TV released a new “traditional guide” for users. It’s essentially a grid format for viewing what content is currently on TV, as well as what content is coming up. This was easily the most requested feature at Sling TV, so it’s easy to see how this new change – while not revolutionary – is going to make the content discovery process for Sling TV users a lot easier. There are several good reasons why Sling TV’s “traditional guide” is working.

Reason #1: It simplifies a confusing interface

While the old Sling TV user interface was functional, it certainly wasn’t elegant. And, if you were feeling particularly uncharitable, you might even say that it was confusing. It made it harder than it needed to be to find what’s on at a specific point in time.

If you think about the way you watch linear TV, it’s easy to see why the grid format – listing channels and times in a series of tiny boxes – remains so popular. It enables you to scroll through quickly an entire listing of 50, 100, even 150 channels very quickly. And you can see what is coming up, too. In short, it made planning your TV watching experience very simple. That’s what Sling TV is trying to regain with its traditional guide: a simpler, more intuitive way to discover content.

Reason #2: It makes it even easier to switch from boring old cable

In its branding, Sling TV loves to take potshots at the old legacy cable providers, touting all the ways that its streaming TV service is fundamentally different from cable. Maybe it’s for that reason Sling TV never fully embraced “the grid” – it might have made Sling TV seem a bit too much like “old TV.”

But if you think about it, giving TV viewers “the grid” also makes it a lot easier to switch. Most people who watch TV don’t care how they get their content – via satellite, cable or Internet – they just want their favorite shows and their favorite programs.

And so “the grid” makes everything seem a lot more familiar for cord-cutters. There’s no longer a sense that they might be missing out on something by getting Sling TV. When they get Sling Orange or Sling Blue, they can instantly see that they’re getting everything that their cable-subscribing friends are getting.


Reason #3: It helps to establish the difference between Sling TV and Netflix

If you think about it, there are two components of the traditional cable TV experience that cord-cutters have to replace: linear TV and an archive of films and shows. For most people, Netflix fills the second need (with lots of movies and shows), but doesn’t fill the first need. If you want to watch TV shows as they appear on the air, you’ll never get that with Netflix.

So you can see how the “grid guide” might turn out to be a brilliant move by Sling TV. It will further differentiate Sling TV from Netflix by emphasizing that Sling TV is an unbeatable provider of live, linear TV. When Sling TV subscribers then find out that it’s possible to watch Sling TV “on demand” content, that’s going to make for a very powerful value proposition. It will be clear that Sling TV offers the best of both worlds, especially as Sling TV continues to upgrade its “on demand” offerings.

Reason #4: It super-satisfies the core Sling TV fans

There’s a basic key to the success of any business: always super-satisfy your biggest fans. What causes problems for companies is when they start to forget about their core fans and begin to focus on other groups of users.

So creating the traditional guide is a great way to show that Sling TV is really listening to its core users. As even Sling TV executives admit, the No. 1 most requested feature has always been a grid format guide. And now Sling TV users have that grid.

With the grid format guide, Sling TV users will be able to see at a glance what’s on, they will be able to filter channels by genre, and they will be able to peek at upcoming schedules. In short, they’re getting everything they wanted.

Reason #5: It will encourage Sling TV users to sample from the a la carte menu

Right now, the Sling TV brand experience is emphasizing “a la carte TV.” With that branding, Sling TV wants to emphasize that it offers a whole lot of content that you can slice and dice however you want. There’s the option to get 150 channels, but most people only get 20. So Sling TV is all about letting you choose which 20 channels you get.

But here’s the thing – sometimes it’s good to let people experiment with new things. Think about the traditional a la carte menu – if you’re going to a restaurant with friends or family, people often order things off this menu that you would never ordinarily order yourself. But that style of ordering encourages sharing and experimentation. You might take a bite of a tasty appetizer and make a mental note: order this the next time I’m here.

In the same way, seeing all those glorious TV channels in a grid format could convince Sling TV users to decide to experiment with even more channels. Maybe they start with 20 channels, but decide to check out some “comedy” or “entertainment” or “international” channels. All of a sudden, the basic Orange subscriber paying $20 a month becomes an Orange subscriber paying $25 or $30 or $35 a month. See? Without the grid, this user might not have known about all the channels out there. Now they can see all the other options out there.


Sometimes the smallest strategic moves can turn out to drive huge business results. In this case, the addition of a grid-format schedule may not seem like a big deal. It’s certainly not a revolutionary move. But it’s exactly what Sling TV users wanted. A simple, intuitive grid interface could do more than just incrementally improve the Sling TV experience, it could help Sling TV win over new customers and tighten up its value proposition. It’s easy to see that Sling TV’s new “traditional guide” is already working.


How Does Hulu’s Release of “The Handmaid’s Tale” Compare to the Binging Experience?

When Hulu released “The Handmaid’s Tale” on April 26, it took a different approach than the one now popularized by Netflix, which typically releases all episodes of a series at once in order to encourage binging. In contrast, Hulu only released the first three episodes on April 26, and is now releasing each of the following seven episodes on a weekly basis.

In short, you’re not going to be able to watch “The Handmaid’s Tale” all at once. Watching “The Handmaid’s Tale” will be a two-month experience, not a two-day experience. There are several important implications that this strategy has – both for Hulu and for TV viewers.

#1: It turns “The Handmaid’s Tale” into a shared viewing experience

If you think about the classic binging experience, it’s one that is typically a very solo experience. You may binge-watch with someone else in your household (such as a  spouse), but chances are, you’re watching the series at a different point in time than each of your friends. That makes it much more difficult to “compare notes” while the series is running. You can’t just go to work or school on a Monday after binging on a new Netflix series over the weekend and expect to find someone to discuss the show with.

Now compare that to the Hulu experience for “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Here, a new episode is coming out every Wednesday. That means you know for sure that people will be talking about the show Thursday morning. If you don’t watch the show on Wednesday night, you will be missing out. And, in today’s digital world, there’s nothing worse than the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO).

This is a concept that Elisabeth Moss, who plays the handmaid Offred in “The Handmaid’s Tale,” pointed out in an interview with Ad Week. According to Moss, there is definite value in being able to have the prototypical “water cooler conversation” the next day. From her perspective, that’s what helped make “Mad Men” (her previous TV series) so successful – people tuned in each week to see what was happening with Don Draper and the advertising execs of Madison Avenue, and then talked about it all throughout the week.

#2: It helps to signal what is “must-watch” TV

If you think about much of the content in Netflix’s movie and show catalog, it’s relatively old material. You’re not getting recent-release Hollywood movies and brand new TV shows. Therefore, none of it is really “must-watch TV.” While some of Netflix’s original programming – such as “House of Cards” or “Orange is the New Black” has established a certain reputation for quality  – nothing on Netflix is really content you have to watch TODAY or TONIGHT – you can watch whenever you want.

By changing the release schedule so that only one new episode comes out each week, Hulu is signaling to viewers that this show is must-watch TV. What makes this argument so particularly compelling for “The Handmaid’s Tale” is that the events taking place in the show – the rise of a totalitarian, post-modern United States – seems to be strangely foreshadowing or commenting on events already underway in the new post-Obama United States.

In other words, events that take place in the show each week seem to matter. They acquire a much higher importance, and are worthy of being talked about, if only from a speculative political and socio-economic perspective. The show has been such a hit for Hulu that women are now wearing red handmaid-like robes to political rallies. They are a symbol of the need for equal rights for women and a woman’s right to choice. That ties in precisely to one of the major plot lines of the Hulu show – that only a handful of fertile women exist, and they must subjugate their own freedoms and rights to the needs of society.


#3: It differentiates Hulu from Netflix by highlighting live streaming TV

In the minds of most streaming video fans, Hulu is all about TV, and Netflix is all about movies. If you want the best new TV shows, you sign up for Hulu. And if you want the best archive of films, you sign up for Netflix. Thus, it is in Hulu’s interest to make sure that every new series that it releases helps to confirm this distinction between TV and movies. Hulu needs to become the un-Netflix..

And, what makes things really interesting is how Hulu has used the unique release timing to set up a new product launch. On May 3 – the first week that “The Handmaid’s Tale” reverted to a weekly release schedule – Hulu also announced the launch of “Hulu With Live TV” for $39.99. Thus, it’s possible to think of “The Handmaid’s Tale” as a clever way to up-sell fans from the typical Hulu experience (at less than $10 per month) to a more premium “live TV” experience. And “The Handmaid’s Tale” becomes important proof of why it’s necessary to get live streaming TV.

#4: It makes it easier for fans to re-read the original book

Most people may know that “The Handmaid’s Tale” is based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 book of the same name. But how many people have actually read that book? That’s where the Hulu release schedule is so genius – it gives viewers enough of a flavor of the dystopian, totalitarian milieu described in the book with the first 3 episodes, and then gives viewers plenty of time to read (or re-read) the original book to really get a much more intense experience.

This, ultimately, makes it easier to hook viewers. How many times have you read a review of a Netflix original series, only to have the review say something like, “the series really only started to hit its stride in Episode 5.” But how many people are willing to give a show that much of a chance? With “The Handmaid’s Tale,” you don’t have the problem. People will be fully vested in the show.

At the end of the day, it’s hard to disagree with Elisabeth Moss when she says, “We should still make sure that there are a few shows that you can watch week by week.” And, without a question, “The Handmaid’s Tale’ is one of those shows. It’s compelling television that has an important story to tell. And that story just gets better and better with each passing week.


Why Netflix’s CEO Called Amazon “Scary”

In the world of streaming video content, Netflix may still be the top dog, but it has identified Amazon as the one competitor of which it is most wary. Appearing on CNBC in late May, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings called Amazon “awfully scary” – a far cry from nearly five years ago, when Netflix derided Amazon’s push into streaming video content as a “confusing mess.” Here are three reasons why Amazon is now “so scary” for Netflix.

Reason #1: Amazon has unrivalled pricing power

In just about any field that it enters, Amazon can afford to be the low-price competitor. Think of books and music – there’s a reason why there are no more brick-and-mortar bookstores and independent record stores, and you can thank Amazon for that. Amazon is so efficient, so big and so global, that it can squeeze out competitors from nearly any market simply by being the low-cost alternative.\

Reed Hastings alluded to that pricing power in his interview with CNBC, in which he said that Netflix would become a “specialty play” like Starbucks, while Amazon would always play the role of Wal-Mart. He went so far as to say that Netflix wouldn’t try to “out-Amazon Amazon.” By this, he means a race to the bottom in pricing.

But is avoiding a price war even possible? Netflix is currently moving all of its subscribers to the $9.99 per month pricing plan, which is an unbelievable bargain in terms of how much content is available to watch. But as Amazon pushes into streaming video content, it could put a lot of pressure on Netflix. If you sign up for Amazon Prime Now, it’s only $99 per year – and that gives you access to Amazon’s growing digital catalog at no additional cost.

So do the math: Netflix is charging $120 per year and Amazon is charging $99 per year. As long as Netflix had a commanding lead in both the amount of content available and the amount of original content available, Netflix subscribers were willing to overlook this pricing discrepancy (especially those Netflix subscribers grandfathered in at $7.99 and $8.99 per month).

Reason #2: Amazon is pushing hard into original content

That, of course, leads us to the second major reason why Amazon is so scary to Netflix – the company is making a major push into original content. According to some estimates, Amazon has allocated anywhere from $4 billion to $5 billion for original streaming content. Amazon is buying up the best films at film festivals and commissioning new work from marquee Hollywood talent.

And now we’re starting to see the fruits of all that investment. At this year’s Oscars, “Manchester By The Sea” – an Amazon original movie – picked up a handful of Oscar nominations, including one for “Best Picture.” And now Amazon has a number of big-name programs lined up for 2017, including “Jack Ryan,” a new action series based on Tom Clancy’s CIA hero Jack Ryan (starring John Krasinski in the title role).


And Amazon isn’t afraid to throw around cash – it reportedly spent $200 million for three seasons of “The Grand Tour,” an auto show that stars the original cast of BBC’s “Top Gear.” And Amazon is also moving aggressively into sports, which has always been an area that Netflix has avoided. This year, Amazon will pay $50 million to live broadcast 10 NFL Thursday Night football games. In contrast, just about the only original sports content that Netflix has is a competition-based reality game show called “Ultimate Beastmaster.” Which one would you rather watch?

Reason #3: Amazon is changing the video streaming business model

Lastly, one of the major reasons why Amazon is so “scary” is because it’s not a traditional competitor for Netflix. In other words, Netflix would be a lot less concerned about a lookalike competitor forced to play by the same rules as it does. But Amazon is a company that cuts across so many categories – everything from cloud computing to book publishing to streaming music to logistics – that it’s impossible to call Amazon a standalone video streaming service.

Instead, the Amazon business model is really all about e-commerce. Getting people hooked on Amazon streaming video content is just a means to an ends – getting people to sign up for Amazon Prime. Once someone is signed up for Amazon Prime, the chances are good that that person will use Amazon anytime they want to order something online. Who wouldn’t use Prime, if it’s free to have it delivered?

And, thus, just as Netflix disrupted the old moribund cable TV operators, it could be the case that Amazon is on the cusp of disrupting Netflix. That’s what truly makes Reed Hasting lie awake at night – the thought that Netflix might be doing everything right, and a competitor like Amazon could still come out of nowhere and disrupt it.

In fact, he hinted as much in the CNBC interview. Reed Hastings, talking about Amazon, said, “It’s like they are trying to repeal the basic laws of business.” And he also noted, “Everything Amazon does is just so amazing.” Does that mean Amazon is unstoppable?

Going forward, the video streaming market is going to get a lot more competitive – not only do you have companies like Amazon entering the fray, you also have the big cable TV giants, which are rapidly reinventing themselves by embracing video streaming. And, of course, you have all the video streaming upstarts like Hulu and Sling TV.

To be victorious in this hyper-competitive marketplace, you need to have two things: plenty of great content and a very attractive price. For the past five years, just about the only company that could claim both of these was Netflix. It was the giant at the top of the video streaming mountain. But now there’s a new competitor – Amazon – that already has very attracting pricing. With billions of dollars being invested into streaming content, it’s only a matter of time before Amazon narrows the gap with Netflix. And that’s why Netflix CEO Reed Hastings called Amazon “scary” – he knows that the writing is already on the wall. There may be little that he can do to delay or obstruct Amazon, and that’s what keeps him up at night.


The Problem with DIRECTV Now

It is now almost four months since AT&T launched DirecTV, its latest strategy to lure the cord-cutters. The verdict on the service is – it has more bugs than the 1997 film, Starship Troopers. AT&T had presumably planned to target the disillusioned cable subscribers looking for an out. But, as it turns out, it is the cord-cutting DirecTV Now subscribers that have been disillusioned by the service. Everything up and about DirecTV Now is crashing. The app has been a nightmare for countless subscribers who were looking for TV entertainment on the internet. Making things worse, AT&T has been defiant as far as taking responsibility for their blunder. They are not even ready to refund their subscribers, who clearly did not sign up for the hell that DirecTV Now has turned out to be. So, what is really wrong with DirecTV Now? Well, where do you start

There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the DirecTV Now app is a work in progress. Instead of finishing an end product that has been tried and tested, AT&T released a half-baked product for a hungry audience. After all, they didn’t want to sit quiet and watch their competitors like DISH’s Sling TV, Sony’s PlayStation Vue, etc. take away the lion’s share of live TV streamers. Ironically, that’s exactly what is happening ever since DirecTV Now launched. Anyone who is not caught up in AT&T’s web is jumping ship. Cord-cutters who want live TV are steering as clear as possible from them. It is true that DirecTV Now does not force its subscribers to sign long term customers. But, it had launched a promotion campaign that gave the users free Apple TVs for subscribers who prepaid for 3 months of service, and free Fire TV Stick to those who prepaid 1 month of service. Those customers are definitely not getting their money back. Naturally, they have been the most vocal among the lot. “I signed up just 2 weeks ago and paid for three months straight. Now I regret it. The service does not work at all,” James, a disgruntled DirecTV Now subscriber emailed us.

The issues with DirecTV Now did not start after an update or because the loads crashed their servers. Instead, the problems existed in the app, in their systems, right from the start. Users have faced every kind of problem there is. Some have complained that the app does not acknowledge their valid subscription details. There have been reports of the app crashing in the middle of a show or a movie. In some cases, the app just logged the users out, and they had to login again to access their content, losing a precious few minutes of their interesting programs. In worse cases, the users were logged out in the middle of the show, and for days they could not access their account on the app. AT&T’s forums are replete with hundreds of discussion threads, each dedicated to a specific issue. That’s something.

Consumers tried everything that they could come up with. After having run out of ideas, when they called the customer support of DirecTV now, they were given non-specific solutions like reinstalling the app, re-logging into the app, etc. When nothing seemed to work, the consumers began venting out their frustrations on the social media. In fact, the hashtag #QP1502, a nod to the error code faced by many users, was soon trending on Twitter. Wow!


AT&T’s social media accounts have been on an overdrive since the launch of DirecTV Now. All they have done is apologize to the subscribers profusely on a daily basis. While they continue to express how sorry they are about their pathetic service, they have made no attempts to pay reparations by refunding their subscribers. Granted, all new services come with bugs. But, DirecTV Now is a bug lair that also just happens to offer a live TV service. Forget refunds, customers are being charged even during their 7-day free trials. When those surprised subscribers tried to unsubscribe from DirecTV Now during their free trial period, they too were denied refunds, although they shouldn’t have been charged in the first place. Clearly, DirecTV Now is in a mess.

Consumers could have shown some sympathy towards the company as this is a new product. However, AT&T did not advertise their live TV service as a beta. Instead, they marketed it as a fully functional service ready to take on the competition. Then, when the service failed, instead of owning up to their mistakes they are making their subscribers pay for their mistakes. Not to be taken for a ride, one of the consumers registered a complaint with the FCC. This appeared to stir the company executives in action, and they refunded all of “$25” to the subscriber. That was for the first of the 3 months of subscription that the person had signed up for. Last time we checked, they were planning to register another complaint with the FCC for the second month as well.

It wouldn’t be wrong to say that AT&T is strong-arming its subscribers into staying with the service, even though they are frustrated with its evidently unfinished product. Sounds familiar? This is cable all over again. Cable operators forced their subscribers to stay with them using long term contracts, no matter how deplorably they treated their customers. For cord-cutters, this is déjà vu all over again. AT&T and its subsidiary DirecTV, which is a satellite TV service, have proved that no matter where they go, they will take with them all the business practices and learnings that they have amassed over the decades in the pay TV business. Bravo DirecTV. Bravo.

As a subscriber, if you think that you are ready to let AT&T keep your subscription, and make peace with it, well, the story may not end that easily. One person on AT&T’s forum wrote, “How do I cancel? Doesn’t work and I’ve been trying to get this cancelled for two days? You basically stole $130.00 from me!” So, there you go. Welcome to hell. The devil has officially entered the streaming business.


How Will Smart TV Technology Transform in the Future?

The pace of innovation in the TV industry has been incredibly rapid over the past decade. TVs continue to become thinner, brighter, and more colorful, thanks to advances in screen technology. And the prices of even the most expensive TVs continue to drop, making very high-end smart TVs much more accessible to consumers. So it’s only natural to assume that the pace of innovation will be just as rapid over the next decade. But how exactly will smart TV technology transform in the future?

The first assumption that you have to dismiss entirely is that the “best” technology will win out. That wasn’t the case with plasma televisions, for example. They were generally considered to have a superior technology. The only problem was that they were difficult to manufacture at a cheap enough price point. As a result, the LED TV caught up and eventually surpassed the plasma TV. It wasn’t a win on technological grounds, but on economic grounds. So we can’t always assume that the latest and greatest technologies will always be the ones that triumph in the decade ahead.

With that in mind, here’s a look at some changes that are likely headed to the smart TV industry.

#1: New types of shared social experiences

If you think about the way you watch TV today and the way you watched TV a decade ago, not much has changed. In fact, you might still be watching TV from that same couch that you bought when you first moved into your new home. So here’s one thing that’s definitely going to change: TV is going to become more social.

In many ways, that was the original premise of connecting the smart TV and the Internet – it was a way to bring all the great content on the Internet to your TV. And it also made it possible to combine social media and your TV. You could theoretically watch a professional baseball game and have tweets related to your team show up on your screen in real-time. That was a basic type of shared experience. Even though you were sitting at home alone on your couch, you were sharing that game with total strangers.

The real breakthrough here might involve Facebook and their new forays into live broadcasting (via Facebook Live). Facebook has also talked about creating a studio for developing original video content, as well as plans for a Facebook TV app that would be available on a set-top device for your TV. Imagine combining the power of Facebook and smart TV into one platform.

#2:  Augmented reality

In the most basic forms of augmented reality, graphics and information are overlaid on top of the screen while you are watching a show, game or movie. This content is not in the original movie or show, but is something that has been pulled in from the Internet to “augment” your experience.

Here’s one example: you’re watching your favorite TV shows and you can’t stop thinking about the wonderful outfits that the beautiful actresses are wearing. You wished that you could buy something just like them. With augmented reality, you might be able to see content about the outfits as an AR layer on your screen, and even receive information about where to purchase them online, all as an overlay.


Or, here’s another example. You’re competing in a fantasy football league with your buddies, and you want to keep track of how your team is doing while you’re watching a game on TV. With augmented reality, you would see an overlay of your players’ fantasy football statistics. In fact, a form of AR is already available for football. If you watch a game, you’ll notice that overlays are drawn on your screen to show the first-down marker. And the broadcasters love to draw little lines and squiggles all over your screen, showing you the route that a pass catcher took, or the intricate series of balletic moves that a monstrous, 300-pound defensive end made to sack your favorite QB.

#3: Virtual reality

One step beyond augmented reality is virtual reality (VR). With VR television, you would be able to bring objects to life as virtual reality experiences. In one demo of this technology, Microsoft showed how it might work with its HoloLens technology. Imagine that you’re watching a football game on TV. You’d hit a button on your remote control and put on a VR headset, and you’d see what appeared to be a re-enactment of the play right in front of you. As part of the demo, Microsoft also showed what appeared to be a VR tabletop. Instead of watching the game on a TV, you’d watch it on a tabletop. You could then touch the screen, and miniature VR players would appear on your tabletop.

As more and more studios develop VR movies, it’s likely that we’ll get smart TVs capable of playing them, as long as you’re wearing a VR headset. For example, at the recent Tribeca Film Festival in New York City, there was a segment of the show devoted purely to immersive VR experiences. In one film, you could strap on a VR headset – in addition to a real bulletproof vest – and walk onto a mini-stage set, complete with trees and bushes. A VR movie then started on your headset, in which you were immersed in a world of elephant poachers in Africa. At times, you were flying overhead in a helicopter, at other times, you were riding through the bush on a jeep. But it felt real.

#4: Holograms

Most holograms today are really just a fancy parlor trick and optical illusion that’s been around since the 18th century. But a real holographic experience would be similar to one in the movie “Star Wars,” where a hologram of the jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi appeared with a message. Using a smart TV, you’d be able to have similar types of holographic experiences.

For example, let’s say that you order an On Demand concert performance by your favorite singer (for the sake of argument, let’s assume it’s Beyonce). If you pressed the “hologram” button on your TV’s remote, you might see a hologram of Beyonce appear in front of you, singing and dancing to her best songs.

And that scenario is not completely out of the question. Thanks to a new technology known as Ultra-D, it’s possible to create realistic 3D images using light fields, parallax barriers, and software. And you don’t even need 3D glasses to view them properly! It’s being billed as an immersive “glasses-free 3D viewing experience.”


It may be hard to predict the future of smart TV precisely, but we do know it’s going to include more than just a lot more pixels. It will include innovative types of experiences and content drawing on technologies already available today. And it will likely be a lot more immersive and interactive than just sitting on a couch eating potato chips. In fact, a decade from now, we might look back fondly on the term “couch potato” and view it as a quaint anachronism.


The Ease and Appeal of Google Chromecast

The primary allure of the Google Chromecast has always been its ability to wirelessly stream Netflix, Spotify, HBO or Hulu content from your mobile device or PC to your TV. Moreover, it was able to do this at a very affordable price – just $35 for the tiny Chromecast dongle. But did you know that there’s a lot more that the Chromecast is able to do? Just check out some of these creative ways to use the Chromecast, proving once again how handy it is.

#1: Send live broadcasts to your TV

Ever since Facebook debuted Facebook Live, people have been looking to live broadcast bits and pieces of their lives. This might be a live broadcast from a birthday party or a “wish you were here” clip while on vacation. Well, you don’t have to watch all those Facebook Live broadcasts on just a tiny mobile phone anymore. You can use the Chromecast to send a Facebook broadcast to the TV. Your friends and family will appear larger than life as they give a live feed from a game, concert or event. Whenever you get a notification from Facebook that one of your friends has a live broadcast in process, it’s time to pull out the Chromecast.

#2: Send photos to your TV

It’s possible to cast photos from Google Photos on an iOS or Android device to your TV. Imagine coming back from vacation and having hundreds of photos on your phone that you want to show others. Now you can invite them to your living room and show them on the big screen. You can turn this into a real entertainment experience. Just dim the lights and turn on the right music to set the scene for your viewers.

#3: Watch TV with the volume cranked down to zero

There is a mobile app called LocalCast that enables you to cast video to your TV while keeping the audio on your device. If you plug in your earphones, you’ll have a completely muted experience – you may have a gorgeous movie playing in HD on your TV, but people around you won’t hear a thing. Pro tip: this is a great way for parents to enjoy a movie after the kids have been packed off to bed. You won’t have to worry about waking them up when a loud explosion goes off in the R-rated action-adventure film you’re watching together.


#4: Take Chromecast with you on vacation

No more being at the mercy of hotels for your entertainment options. You can take your Chromecast with you on vacation and use it to play content on your hotel’s TV. You have two options here – you can either call the hotel IT desk and have them hook up your Chromecast to the hotel Wi-Fi network, or you can bring a travel router that plugs into an Ethernet port in the wall. In the second case, you’d have to connect your Chromecast and the travel router to make sure they can talk to each other. But the result is magic: you can stream content in your hotel room, just like you would at home.

#5: Have a virtual reality experience

Ok, here’s where things get really interesting. You can combine the Google Daydream VR headset and the Chromecast to show what’s on your headset on your TV. Thus, as you are exploring a virtual world, you can let people join in on the fun. This helps to make virtual reality (VR) a more social experience. Instead of having your friends seeing you just twisting and turning your neck every now and then and letting out an audible, “Wow,” let them see exactly what you’re seeing in virtual reality.

#6: Play games on the TV

Just like you can stream movies on your TV, you can also stream games. There are a growing number of games made specifically for Chromecast in the Google Play store. Most of these are fun family games that you can enjoy with your kids, like “Trivia Bash” or “Just Dance Now” (if you want to get your groove on). If it’s a rainy day and your kids are getting cabin fever, this might be a fun, low-cost way to keep them from running around the house.


#7: Have a presentation on your TV

If you use Google Slide, you can show your presentation with Chromecast since Google Cast is built into Chrome. In other words, you can carry around your corporate presentation with you on your phone and then project it on a TV to give a true big screen effect to your latest slides. Once you’ve figured out this little trick, you’ll never want to give a PowerPoint presentation on your laptop again.

#8: Play music on your TV

You can also take advantage of the audio qualities of your TV to play music. You can do this via the Google Play Music app. Just open up the app, select the Cast icon, and then choose Chromecast. From there, you can have an impromptu DJ performance in your living room. Or just stream music during a party. If you’ve invested in a home entertainment system, it’s time to make the Chromecast the center of that system.

#9: Watch your movies in stunning 4K

Google Chromecast recently released an upgrade, known as 4K Ultra, that enables you to stream 4K content. If you went out and bought the latest and greatest TV that boasts a stunning 4K picture, this might be worth the upgrade. You now have the ability to watch stunning content in the highest possible resolution.

#10: Use the Chromecast to decorate your room

We said the Chromecast was handy, right? It now comes in such colorful options that it seems like it would make a wonderful piece of décor for your room to match with art on your walls. At the very least, you can use it as a paperweight.

As you can see, the uses of the Google Chromecast are limited only by your imagination. Seemingly every week, there’s a new use unveiled for the Chromecast. Any digital content, it seems, can be cast to your TV. So, whatever you do, don’t refer to your Chromecast by the derogatory term “dongle” anymore. It’s way, way more than that. It’s cheap, portable and very handy.


How Will Live Streaming Affect This NFL Season?

Changes in the live streaming industry continue to reverberate everywhere, changing the way we think about entertainment, news and sports. Perhaps the best place to see this dynamic at work is with the NFL, which is continually looking for ways to widen its fan base and provide a superior viewing experience via live streaming.

The days are long gone when the only way you could catch an NFL game was by tuning into broadcast TV at a certain time. Once Monday Night Football moved to ESPN, it meant that you seriously had to consider cable TV. And as live streaming became popular, it meant that streaming services such as Sling TV became very relevant for football fans who wanted to pay the minimum possible and still get their NFL action. And in 2016, the NFL changed the game even further, by streaming Thursday Night Football games on Twitter.

So there are clearly a lot of changes happening right now with how the NFL delivers its action to fans. Here’s what to watch out for in the 2017 NFL season in terms of live streaming.

#1: New Live Streaming Partners

During the first week of April, the NFL announced that – not Twitter – would become the new live streaming partner for Thursday Night Football. Amazon hasn’t released much about what its live streaming option will include, only that it will only be available for Amazon Prime members.

Tying the live stream to Amazon Prime membership makes sense – after all, Amazon reportedly paid $50 million for the right to live stream a whopping total of 10 games! It’s easy to do the math – that’s $5 million per game. Assuming that the cost of Amazon Prime membership will be $99 per year, it looks like Amazon will need to sign up 50,000 new Amazon Prime members each week to make this deal work!

Most likely, Amazon will include the live NFL action as another reason to buy new Amazon Fire streaming sticks. Last season all you needed was a Twitter account to get live NFL action: this year you will need some kind of hardware to stream the game to your TV.

#2: A More Fragmented Viewing Experience

In addition to Amazon, there are now at least three other ways to stream NFL action without having cable TV: Sling TV, Playstation Vue and NFL Game Pass. If you have cable TV and a tablet or smartphone, then you can stream the games on mobile apps from NBC, Fox, ESPN and NFL Network.

But here’s the thing: it might take a combination of several different streaming services to get exactly the right mix of games. Last season, for example, Sunday games were available on CBS and Fox, Sunday night games were on NBC, Monday night games were on ESPN, and Thursday Night Football games were on CBS, NBC or NFL Network (depending on the week).


Confused yet?

So, let’s say you’ve cut the cord with cable and are using Sling TV to get your TV content. You would need Sling Blue to get NFL Network, and you would need Sling Orange to get ESPN. So you would need Sling Orange and Blue to get all the games on Sunday and Monday.

Oh, but wait, there’s just one problem with that strategy – local Fox and NBC streaming feeds are not available in all markets with Sling TV, so that means you might still have no way to watch Sunday Night Football (on NBC) or Sunday games (on Fox). And when Thursday Night Football was on NBC, you’d have to watch it via Amazon!

So you can see why watching football is going to be a very fragmented experience for anyone who doesn’t have cable TV. By the time you combine all the necessary services (like $99 for Amazon Prime!), maybe it’s just easier to sign up for cable TV and stop trying to patch together a lot of different streaming options!

#3: New Types of Screen Experiences

The big allure of signing up Twitter last season was that the NFL could tap into a vast new audience of social media users who might not otherwise watch football. If all your friends are tweeting about the game, then it might encourage you to tune in as well. The single best ad for the NFL, theoretically, is a Twitter feed that fills up with NFL-related tweets.

In theory, Twitter + NFL should have meant even more of a “second screen experience.” In other words, people would be watching the game on TV while sending out funny tweets on their tablet. But maybe that’s not what the NFL really wants. Maybe it’s better for the NFL if all the social interaction actually occurs on the TV screen.

Moreover, a lot of users complained about the Twitter experience last year. One big #fail was the fact that there was a 15-to-30 second delay between the linear broadcast and the live stream. That means people on Twitter were sometimes sending out tweets about what just happened 30 seconds before you saw it yourself! You’d be watching your team, huddled down near its own end zone, and people on Twitter would be talking about some amazing play. And then – boom! – the star player on your team streaks down the sideline for an 80-yard touchdown. So that’s what they were just tweeting about!

One type of new screen experience that people are talking about this year is better integration of stats, scores and fantasy football information right on your screen. Thus, say the quarterback on your fantasy football team just threw a touchdown – instead of checking on your mobile app to see how that play  changed your fantasy football score, you’d see it right on the screen.

The key here is that people prefer to watch NFL on the big screen. That’s why people go to bars to watch games – the screen is bigger than the one at home. That’s why the guy or girl with the biggest TV screen always hosts the Super Bowl party – you want to be able to see all the action on a huge HD or 4K screen!

So, looking ahead to the 2017 season, there’s a lot to keep in mind about live streaming. Once Amazon announces how it plans to deliver Thursday Night Football action, you can start plotting out the ultimate live streaming experience if you don’t have cable TV. And, even if you do have cable, you’ll want to check out whether you will need to upgrade to a higher tier to catch all the action on NFL Network or NFL RedZone.

This might just be the season where Sling TV and Playstation Vue find themselves dealing with mass defections of NFL fans, who are starting to realize that the “skinny bundle” popularized by these streaming services might not deliver all the hard-hitting football action they want every Sunday, Monday and Thursday. Now that the big streaming players have shown that NFL action can be a premium offering, it’s going to be interesting to see what changes they make in the live streaming market.


Is Binge-Watching Potentially Detrimental?

Binge-watching is a habit that millions of Americans have embraced, but now some researchers are warning that hours spent in front of the TV could have some negative side-effects. So is binge-watching potentially detrimental?

Big streaming companies like Netflix certainly don’t think so. In fact, Netflix encourages users to enjoy the binge. It’s a guilty little pleasure that’s a great way to share an experience with a friend. In fact, Netflix says that 6 in 10 streamers regularly engage in binge-watching, which the company defines as watching between two and six episodes of a show in a single sitting.

Health risks

On the surface, there’s no fundamental difference between a regular “couch potato” who stares at the TV while reclining on the couch for hours at a time and a Netflix binge-watcher who stares at a TV while sitting on that same couch. And all that physical inactivity simply isn’t good for you, especially if you’ve spent all day sitting at your desk. Sedentary behavior, if it becomes an ingrained habit, can increase your health risks for diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

However, is it the case that binge-watching is the same as being a couch potato? Given the fact that many people stream content to their tablet or smartphone, it could be the case that people are watching a show while moving around, such as running on a home treadmill. As long as you’re standing, stretching and doing some walking around between episodes, you’re reducing the worst of the health risks.

Social isolation

OK, but what if you binge-watch alone? According to survey data from entertainment research firm Marketcast, 56% of people binge-watch alone and 98% binge-watch at home. That would seem to suggest that binge-watching is largely a solo activity that you’re not engaging in while in public.

But, again, facts can be deceiving. The whole point of binge-watching certain shows is to catch up with what your friends, family or work colleagues are talking about, right? How many times have you heard people talking about “Game of Thrones” and realized that you’d better get caught up if you want to be able to have a conversation with them? Some shows – like “Orange is the New Black” – become part of the pop culture world, so having a basic understanding of what’s happening in the show actually has positive (not negative) social implications.

Addictive behavior

There’s something about the binge that makes it addictive. You start out saying that you’re only planning on watching two or three episodes, and end up watching all 12 episodes. That’s a potential sign of dangerous addictive behavior. And another sign of addictive behavior is something that’s known as “Netflix cheating.” That’s when you promise to watch a show with someone, but then binge-watch more than you agreed to.

But as long as you can limit yourself to a certain number of episodes, you should be OK. Just as there’s nothing wrong about getting wrapped up in a mystery novel or spy thriller and reading more chapters than you planned, there’s nothing inherently wrong about watching more episodes than you planned.


Whose side is Netflix really on?

The problem, really, is that the big streaming services have a vested interest in getting you to binge-watch. The more you binge-watch, the more you establish a relationship with Netflix, and the harder it is to say goodbye to your Netflix subscription.

Say, for example, you promise to give up Netflix as soon as you make it through every single episode of “Orange Is the New Black.” But then, just as you are about to finish the final season, you happen to read an article seductively titled something like, “Great shows coming soon to Netflix.” You decide to try out one or two of these shows, and before you know it, you’re trapped in another binge-watching cycle. And so it goes, over and over again.

Do you have a problem with binge-watching?

It’s this chronic binge-watching that might lead to problems. In fact, a more severe form of binge-watching is something that’s perhaps best known as marathon binge-watching. That’s when you decide to binge-watch not just a single series – but every season of that series, ever.

Believe it or not, but people have actually done studies on this, trying to determine how many hours you would need to spend binge-watching every episode of every season of a certain series. If you tried to watch all seven seasons of “The West Wing,” it would take you five full days. Do you really have five days of your life to devote to that show?

So perhaps it’s time to ask yourself several important questions to see if you have a problem with binge-watching:

  • Have you stopped enjoying the show you’re watching?
  • Are you neglecting household tasks or your studies?
  • Are you canceling social events to binge-watch a show?

If you answer “Yes” to any of these three questions, then binge-watching is detrimental. In the first case, it means that you’re watching TV for the sake of watching TV, and not because you’re deriving any real pleasure from it. In the second case, it means that all of that time spent watching TV is starting to intrude into your “real life.” And, finally, if you’re canceling social events to watch TV, then guess what? That’s basically the definition of anti-social behavior and you might have a problem.


As you can see, there’s no easy way to tell if binge-watching is detrimental or not. As with most things in life, the key to success is moderation. Just as there’s nothing wrong with occasionally having a few beers with your colleagues, there’s nothing wrong with occasionally binge-watching a few of your favorite shows. However, when behaviors persist over a long enough period of time, that’s when they start to become addictive.  And addiction means that the brain starts to crave more of it, in order to achieve the same effect.

As a golden rule, you should think about how many hours of TV you’re watching each week and try to keep it within manageable levels. Don’t overdo it, and make sure that binge-watching a show is not just an excuse to have a tub of popcorn every night!


How Will Live Streaming TV Be Different From Cable?

This could be the year that members of the cord-cutting generation finally put an end to cable TV as we know it. While there are already two primary live streaming TV alternatives that everybody knows about – Sling TV and PlayStation Vue – there are also a handful of options that either launched at the end of last year or are planning to launch by mid-2017, including DirecTV Now, Hulu Live, YouTube TV and VIDGO.

In short, there are going to be a lot more ways to watch live streaming TV than ever before in 2017. So it’s only fair to ask: How will live streaming TV be different from cable?

That’s a great question to ask, since it helps us deconstruct the classic cable TV experience into its component parts: content, distribution, and functionality. The live streaming TV services are splitting apart each of these components, re-thinking them, and then recombining them in new ways to make pricing more affordable for customers.

Of course, as you’ll see below, you also have to keep in mind the various trade-offs that you might have to make as a live streaming TV customer. You didn’t really think that you’d get the same number of channels as cable and even more functionality at a cheaper price, did you?

Factor #1: Content

Let’s start with content, because that’s the first place you’ll notice a difference in the live streaming TV experience from the cable TV experience. Whereas you typically get 200+ channels with a cable TV provider, you might only get 30 to 50 channels with the core offering of an alternative streaming TV provider (as is the case with Sling TV and PlayStation Vue).

The key, then, is to figure out how many of the “best” content channels you’re getting. As long as you’re getting a few of the major networks, a major sports network like ESPN and a major news network like CNN, services like Sling TV figure you probably won’t care that you’re not getting 150 channels you wouldn’t watch anyway. That was the reason you decided to become a cord-cutter in the first place, right?

The new trend is to offer live streaming TV customers a “skinny bundle” that includes all the most popular channels. Then, customers can customize that bundle with all kinds of add-on packages or single premium networks. For example, you might get the Sling TV Orange package (30 channels), and then pay extra to get HBO. The number of possible permutations is really mind-boggling, and you have to pay careful attention that all those channel add-ons don’t start inflating the core price you’ve agreed to pay.

Factor #2: Distribution

You might wonder what “distribution” means, and it’s a really good term to know. It’s also a very important question to ask. Distribution is a very internet-centric term, but it just refers to how the content is delivered to you. As you might have guessed, the live streaming TV providers are using the Internet to provide all that great content, so in a certain way, they are dependent on the big cable providers who built all those nice, fat broadband pipes into your living room.

But here’s where things get really interesting – once you have Internet in your home, it means you can create a Wi-Fi network in your home, and that means – you guessed it! – that you can take your TV content with you wherever you go in your home. And you can watch it on just about any digital device – a tablet, a smartphone or a laptop computer. If you can get Internet service, and if you can download an app, you can watch the TV content. This really expands the pie in terms of the number of potential consumers.


Factor #3: Functionality

The fundamental premise of a cable TV experience is that you can do just about anything with your TV once you have cable hooked up – you can watch live, linear TV; you can watch content On Demand; and you can record shows to your DVR. This is actually a very powerful argument, so the live streaming TV services have had to re-think this to make up for any deficiencies.

And this is what they came up with – a plan to wean you off your TV and get you to embrace the idea of watching TV on your tablet or other digital device. That way, they don’t need to worry about set-top boxes, equipment, or even if you have a TV. Instead of a physical DVR, you now have a “cloud DVR”! In fact, you may not even need an official “internet account” – if you’re a college student, you might just live off free Wi-Fi in your dorm and the local Starbucks, for example.

Who owns the customer now?

We’ve just looked at three very important factors – content, distribution and functionality. The live streaming TV services have all taken slightly different approaches to these, all in an attempt to offer a superior value proposition to users. That’s fantastic for the customer, of course, because more competition means more choice.

But here’s the strange thing – it’s not really clear who “owns the customer” these days. Think about it – with a cable TV provider, you signed up for a cable contract lasting one, two or three years. The company “owned” you. If you wanted to get any content that wasn’t live, linear TV, you essentially had to ask permission from them and then pay them.

But the live streaming TV service providers did away with contracts. You can quit and walk away at any time. So, a customer could theoretically sign up for Sling TV, stay for a month or two, quit, sign up for some bargain or special rate from DirecTV Now, quit, and then sign up for YouTube TV or PlayStation Vue or…

Well, you get the idea. Customer loyalty is really a thing of the past. The companies who “own” the customer these days are the most popular content companies – like HBO. It used to be the case that, in order to get HBO, you HAD to be a cable customer. No questions asked. But HBO essentially unbundled itself from cable. Now, it’s an a la carte option on the great streaming TV buffet table. You can get HBO with Sling TV, for example, and that’s got to make the big cable TV companies extremely upset.

You know why, right? Yes, of course, it’s because customers can kick cable TV companies to the curb now if they can get their HBO or ESPN elsewhere. So that might be the biggest change to the live, linear TV experience: a fundamental change in how customers think about all the great TV content they’re consuming.

The new paradigm is a massive “internet cloud” where every single piece of TV content resides. It’s just a matter of finding the right way to stream all that content to your device, and now there is a very robust set of options. Sling TV and PlayStation Vue were just the beginning of what has become a major new trend in how people watch live TV.

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