If you’ve ever tried to withhold a tablet full of cartoons from the grasping clutches of a five-year-old intent on mainlining Dora the Explorer, then you know that children’s TV content is a pretty big deal. Often it’s the only thing that can prevent a total, shrieking, screaming, flailing and hysterical meltdown. Viacom will be trying to cash in on that need for kid fodder with a new stand-alone subscription service for Nickelodeon.
2014 was a record-setting year in an enormous variety of ways, both good and bad. As we wrap up and head into 2015, here’s a look at what happened, and what we learned, in the 2014 that was.
Americans watch a lot of TV. But increasingly, we don’t watch it “on TV.” If you feel like everyone you know is spending Saturday devouring whole seasons of programming on Netflix instead of channel-surfing on the cable box, you’re not alone. At least half the people you know are doing that, a new survey confirms — and those numbers just keep going up.
Plenty of people have cut back on pay TV — cable and satellite — and gone to internet-only subscriptions in order to save some cash. But the individual cord-cutters aren’t the only ones realizing how expensive programming can be, and how they can live without it in the broadband era. Some small-scale cable companies are also taking the plunge, and cutting out TV service altogether.
In recent years, cable companies and broadcasters have squared off in nasty, public spats that sometimes result in blackouts for millions of viewers. The broadcasters say they aren’t being paid properly and the cable companies claim they’re on our side, trying to keep costs down (though we always end up paying more). These battles will likely only get worse, with analysts predicting that the cost of content will continue to increase. [More]
Aereo lost their case in the Supreme Court last month, and had to suspend operations a few days later. In that case, the Court ruled that Aereo was actually operating just like a cable company, and so needed to license content like one. Aereo is now legally trying to do just that — but the broadcasters still object.
If you just had a hunch that your basic cable pricing was going up more rapidly than the other things you pay for, you’re probably not mistaken. A new FCC report on the cost of pay-TV services says that during 2012 the cost of a basic cable TV package increased at more than four times the rate of inflation in the U.S. [More]
The mega-rich can dabble in pretty much any business they want to. Warren Buffet owns everything from furniture stores to ice cream chains. Richard Branson started a commercial spaceflight company, for crying out loud. And yet with demand for high-speed, affordable internet access going only up, up, and up, no new business or venture capitalist seems to be stepping into the fray to provide it. People passionately hate their current cable companies — so what’s stopping an enterprising entrepreneur from making a giant wad of cash entering the telecom game?
In a congratulatory gesture to celebrate Comcast’s Worst Company In America win, an antenna company took it upon itself to deliver a cake to the victor’s Philadelphia headquarters. One, because cake is delicious (clearly) and also to thank the cable company for sending it cord-cutting customers who have a sudden need to buy an antenna. [More]
If you’re one of those TV viewers who knows exactly where on their vast channel list to find the few stations you watch regularly, or who frustratedly skims past screen after screen of channels you not only don’t watch but don’t even know the names of, you’re not alone. In fact, a new report confirms that the average TV watcher only looks at fewer than 1-in-10 of the channels that come into their homes. [More]
UPDATE: A rep for Verizon has reached out to Consumerist to clarify that the $50 activation fee is only required for customers who order FiOS service offline and that this fee varies from market to market. Additionally, the $5/month router rental fee has not yet started. It will begin Feb. 16 in all markets except New York State. [More]
While numerous telecoms in Europe and Asia are acknowledging that it’s becoming cheaper and easier to provide TV and high-speed Internet service to consumers, many U.S. providers are continuing to charge high prices for a mediocre product, according to a new report from the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute. [More]
All that binge-watching at the swipe and a click of the mouse has proved successful for Netflix lately, as the company revealed yesterday in its letter to investors that it’s hit 29.3 million U.S. subscribers. Without even taking into account its trial customers, that’s a hop skip and jump over HBO’s last reported total of 28.7 million subscribers. Cord? What’s a cord? Something to be cut? [More]
A scream of rage goes up, a long howl filled with frustration. You forgot to set the DVR to tape the latest episode of Breaking Amish: L.A. But there’s hope yet for cable and satellite customers, as video on demand programming has been improving through the years, and is now available to 60% of American TV households. [More]
There are six words that you never want to hear from someone who’s doing work on your home: “Do you have a fire extinguisher?” That’s what an Ohio family heard from the man installing DirecTV in their house this week. Turns out that what they thought was drywall dust was smoke, and the installer had hit the house’s main power line while drilling in the garage. Oops. [More]
Look, it doesn’t matter how important it is to be up to date on the latest happenings on “Dexter” or “Breaking Bad” before you get to the office on Monday. When your cable goes out, the proper reaction is to wait for a few minutes, then (perhaps) to call your cable company to make sure it isn’t just you. That is not how the good people of Connecticut reacted last night. [More]
The still waters of the cable TV industry might run deep, but if companies like Google keep splashing around in them, we might see an alternative to the traditional bundling model — but it ain’t gonna be easy. A new report says Google is entertaining the idea of possibly offering cable channels over broadband Internet connections, something that would likely meet with a major pushback from cable and satellite providers. [More]
One of the most frequent complaints we receive from readers is cable companies making it difficult to return equipment (or claiming equipment was never returned in the first place). Most people chalk this up to the cable industry’s ingrained ineptitude, but what if it’s a deliberate attempt to make customers weary of returning their equipment — and thus staying with their current provider? [More]