TV viewers have never had more choices to view a common shows when and where they want. The first step in this direction began when networks began streaming episodes online at their official websites. Then services like Netflix’s Instant Streaming and Hulu became available allowing viewers to view both current and past episodes of TV shows and movies from their computer. Companies like Amazon have entered industry as well offering streamed movies and individual episodes on a pay-per-play basis. Internet-TV devices such as for instance Boxee, Roku, Xbox 360, PS3, and Apple TV let users enjoy several streaming options on the televisions for a better viewing experience. With many of these options cable companies are under pressure to help keep customers from dropping their TV subscriptions and watching online only. Cable companies are picking out new ways to provide their TV and Internet subscribers added value by letting them access exclusive content from their computers and mobile devices.
The past big leap cable companies made to help keep viewers was the introduction of On Demand content for digital cable subscribers watch free streaming movies online. On Demand let people watch many network and cable shows on their own schedule. By partnering with premium channels like HBO and Showtime, viewers may even watch movies whenever they want provided that they are premium tier subscribers as well. Several cable providers also stream TV content to subscribers from the providers website as a means to help keep customers eyes far from Netflix and Hulu. With more and more outlets for television online cable must adapt and either equal or better what users will find elsewhere.
Whether from a poor economy and housing market or from online competition, cable companies have experienced a slowing growth trend that they have to address. Another frontier for providers may be the mobile space. The explosion of advanced phones, netbooks, and tablets just like the iPad have quickly changed peoples expectations of where they are able to view TV and movies. Netflix Instant Streaming is available being an app on the iPhone and iPad and rumored to soon be available on Android devices. Comcast has joined the trend by announcing the release of the Xfinity TV app for the iPad. Comcast cable TV subscribers can use the app to stream a large choice of network, cable, and premium content. Expect other cable providers like Charter and Time Warner Cable to check out suite soon. Another leverage point cable providers have is that their broadband infrastructure is carrying the bulk of online video traffic. Though they are limited by the FCC in simply how much freedom they’ve over pricing, more providers are looking at usage fees to offset the bandwidth expenses they incur, especially from customers who drop cable TV subscriptions and watch online exclusively. How each one of these rapid changes will continue to work themselves out ultimately is hard to say. But something is for several, we can have more and more viewing choices in places that we couldn’t have imagined only a couple years ago.