In an era when everybody and their grandmother seems to be launching their own proprietary subscription streaming service, something about Hulu seems almost quaint. The platform is jointly owned by three giant media companies, and therefore is almost a pre-bundled service that actually carries programming from all of them. And eventually — but not quite yet — you can make that four.
It’s been nearly six months since the FCC first proposed doing something about the cable set-top box market. Since then, the White House and Congress have both had their say about it, while all along the cable industry has been lobbying and complaining incessantly. But behind all that, the FCC and the industry are at least talking to each other to try to hash out what the future could look like. Unfortunately, if industry gets its way, that future could leave a lot of consumers’ favorite features behind their TV providers’ big fat “pay me” gates.
Last year, Disney CEO Bob Iger suggested that one day ESPN could go the way of HBO Now and other premium cable channels by offering a streaming option available outside current cable packages. That day is reportedly coming sooner rather than later, but it might not include anything you actually want to watch. [More]
The FCC’s got a proposal in the works right now that Comcast doesn’t like. This is not a shock; Comcast has generally not liked any headlining proposals from the FCC in recent years. Some of the cable giant’s complaints are undoubtedly just sound and noise, signifying nothing other than “we like profit, don’t screw with our thing.” But maybe some of its technological complaints have merit.
As mentioned in the earlier story about Sen. Claire McCaskill’s customer disservice call to her pay-TV provider, the Missouri senator and others on the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations held a hearing today to talk to cable industry executives about their bad billing practices. Not surprisingly, the cable suits did a bang-up job of proving that these companies deserve their poor reputation. [More]
Comcast Hopes Fans Of The Olympics Will Like Its Voice-Controlled Remote So Much They Won’t Cut The Cord
Faced with a future where people can watch as much content as they want without a cable subscription, Comcast is getting ready to launch a product during the Rio Olympics it hopes will keep customers from pulling out those scissors and cutting the cord. [More]
While cutting the cable cord might seem like a way to stick it to multibillion-dollar companies like Comcast and DirecTV, cord-cutting is also a potential goldmine for retailers eager to sell you the tools you’ll need to snip that traditional pay-TV umbilical. That’s why Walmart is pushing this new generation of products with a “Cut the Cable” promotion.
A major annual consumer satisfaction survey is out, and it’s a mixed bag for the cable and telecom sector and all of us who use it. The bad: pay-TV, broadband, phone, and wireless companies still pretty much really suck, and most of us are very dissatisfied with them. The good: year over year, most of them are finally starting to suck less than they used to!
When the FCC voted in February to consider new rules for your cable box, that kicked off a multi-month cycle of public comments, where anyone and everyone can have their say. The deadline for the first round struck at midnight Friday, which means most of the comments are just rolling onto the internet for all and sundry to have a look at.
Although your binge-watching brain might not remember a time when television shows and movies were anything but on-demand, live TV is still around. Soon, if you want to find out what’s on and when, Google search results will include listings for live TV. [More]
The Comcast-connected faux grassroots group created to protect the cable industry’s $20 billion annual revenue stream of set-top box rental fees is now claiming that it caught FCC Chair Tom Wheeler in a real “gotcha” moment, proving that there is indeed no need for competition on these devices. But either this group has no idea what it’s talking about, or it thinks the American consumer is incredibly gullible. [More]
Someday, you will be able to buy your house and everything in it from Amazon, much like Sears a century ago. Perhaps to prepare for that day, Amazon is now selling Comcast’s Xfinity bundles in its new Amazon Cable Store, and the store setup implies that they’ll be adding carriers in other areas soon. [More]
It’s been almost two and a half years since we last checked in with our northern neighbors in Canada about how their nationwide implementation of à la carte cable is going. Today is when the real test of unbundled TV begins: cable companies will be required to offer basic plans for $25 as of today, and even more radical unbundling will happen by the end of 2016. [More]
While the cable industry hasn’t fessed up to how much it makes leasing set-top boxes to their customers, in July, lawmakers crunched some numbers and found that it could be a $20 billion industry, with consumers paying up to $232 every year on that equipment. Two advocacy groups are now asking the Federal Communications Commission to begin a rulemaking proceeding to reform the video set-top box market, saying cable and pay-TV companies are overcharging consumers by $6 billion to $14 billion annually. [More]
Thirty years ago, in 1996, you actually used your TV to watch broadcast or cable signals — live, as things aired. Twenty years ago, in 2006, you probably still had cable, but you probably also had a DVR, freeing you to watch programming at your leisure (much to the chagrin of advertisers). Ten years ago, in 2016, you may or may not have decided to cut the coaxial cord — but even if you had cable, odds were high you complemented it with some kind of streaming service. But by today, Jan. 4, 2026, if you even remember what “cable” was, that’s probably because you only see it at your grandparents’ house. [More]