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TV Everywhere Might Just Be a Big Bully

This article was written by in Consumer. 8 comments.


My family turned off our TV service a few weeks ago, and we’ve been fine so far, watching things through Hulu, iTunes, or Netflix, wherever it’s cheapest. When we get it through iTunes, we’re paying for each episode, when it comes through Netflix, we’re paying a monthly subscription fee, and when it’s “brought to us by” Hulu, we sit patiently through the commercials.

Cable, satellite and phone companies are launching different versions of something called “TV Everywhere”, which will enable online streaming of many TV shows, but only for people who subscribe to their monthly services (i.e. they’re already paying too much for those TV shows). On the face of it, this is no problem. It’s just a bonus service for cable subscribers.

However, because of the way content distribution deals are made, it’d make sense for a TV network to want to deal only with one of these services, and not, for example, Hulu. According to the Washington Post:

Programmers of content — Viacom and NBC Universal, for example — are inclined to keep traditional business arrangements with cable and satellite video companies who have subscription fees and a guaranteed audience that advertisers like, according to the public interest groups. As such, they are “starving” new competitors to cable and satellite firms such as Boxee and Vuze who need access to choice shows and movies to attract viewers.

As a result, public interest watchdogs have filed for investigations by the FTC and the Justice Department. They claim that the big cable companies met in secret to launch this initiative and are colluding to edge out reasonable, à la carte methods of paying for entertainment. You know how like when you go out to a movie, you have to bring proof of your paid membership in the Regal Cinema club, which charges $100 a month whether you go to the movies or not? It’d be like that.

Just as an aside, it seems like the news these days is frequently about companies trying ridiculous and offensive things in order to maintain previous profits, even when consumers have simply moved onto the next thing. Or has it always been like that?

Public interest groups call for antitrust probe of TV Everywhere, Cecilia Kang, The Washington Post, Jan. 4 2010

Published or updated January 4, 2010. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Smithee formerly lived primarily on credit cards and the good will of his friends. He is a newbie to personal finance but quickly learning from his past mistakes. You can follow him on Twitter, where his user name is @SmitheeConsumer. View all articles by .

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar BobBobBob

Comcast’s online TV offering is available to Comcast internet subscribers who don’t have Cable TV. It’s like a crappier version of Hulu, but it’s what we’ll use if/when Hulu starts charging.

We don’t have cable, and would be hard pressed to even consider getting it.

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avatar Smithee ♦1,358 (Quarter)

Thanks for the clarification.

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avatar Deez

Consider torrents. They are your friend.

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avatar Matt SF

I’m not an expert, but if you run a business and you want to maintain a historical profit margin (and maintain dividend payments to shareholders) in a market where you’re losing customers, the only real opportunity you have is to raise your price.

The market will decide if they like/need your product enough to keep you around.

In this sense, it vaguely reminds me of AOL dial up service back in the late 90s / early 2000s.

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avatar usul356

I would actually buy cable again if they did a reasonable à la carte method. I just got tired of paying $100 a month so I could watch the 10 channels that I actually liked. If I could pick and choose what channels I wanted and not some pre-made package, I wouldn’t have any trouble paying for cable. G4 and National Geographic are two example channels that I liked, but could only get if I bought the basic, expanded basic, digital variety tier, and digital sports and information. This was using Suddenlink in my area. That’s way too much for more channells when I only wanted to watch one in that special tier of theirs.

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avatar Andrew @ Earn Give Save

Exactly—we just got rid of everything but basic channels through AT&T Uverse. The reality is that we only really watched 7/200 channels anyway, so why not pay $30 less for a few fewer channels. It’s going to be really interesting to see where this goes in the next couple of years. It’s about time that cable companies started to feel a little pressure about offering their product the way that consumers want to consume it.

It’s like going to a restaurant where you order a steak, and they bring that, plus a piece of grilled chicken, sausage and peppers, and a filet of fish. All we’re saying is, please give us our steak, it’s what we ordered :)

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avatar tigernicole86 ♦55 (Newbie)

My roommates and I got rid of the cable before they moved out and we realized we never really needed it although it was nice. We made a media box and hooked it up to the tv and internet and had a grand old time.

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avatar Nicole

My name is Nicole and I’m excited about having the ability to watch TV Everywhere. I’m a DISH Network employee and a subscriber and I’ve seen first hand the technology that does this. After playing around with the Sling Adapter before its release I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this innovative technology for myself. It was a flat $99 for the adapter, the app for my iPhone was free and I pay nothing more on my monthly bill for basically having my home TV in my pocket.

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