CES 2015: The future of TV isn’t curved, it’s cordless: Sling TV and its impact on content providers (and sports fans)

January  16,  2015 / By Taylor Blog

In a week that was entrenched with the term “connected,” one of the biggest broadcast, and content, news that was established was the official “disconnection” from cable television, or the “cutting of the cord” for modern consumers. The TV industry now is where the music industry was in the early 90s. There is a major shift coming that is driven by options that give the audience more freedom to enjoy exactly what they want, when and where they want, and without paying for the excess things they don’t want.

With the unveil of Dish Network’s new Sling TV at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the solidification of a live and mobile broadcast experience is on the horizon, and all without the limitations of network subscriptions or waiting periods. It’s satellite service without the satellite dish, or cable without the cable box. And with major sports channels like ESPN, TBS and TNT already on board, the new standalone live-internet TV streaming service has sports fans lined up outside the ball park to hear what all the ruckus is about.

Dish Network said it will launch Sling TV nationwide in the first quarter of 2015. For $20 a month and with no any strings attached (sure beats those expensive sports cable packages – e.g. NFL Sunday Ticket), Sling TV will for the first time deliver live sports, lifestyle, family, news and information channels, video-on-demand entertainment and the best of online video to broadband-connected devices. So now, there’s no need to miss any of the third quarter if you had to run out at halftime to grab more Taco Bell, you can live-stream every second of the Nittany Lions game even if you’re still stuck in the drive-thru.

Led by Millenials looking for fewer restrictions on how they watch what they want to watch, consumers are exploring alternatives to the incumbent cable operators. And these alternatives are starting to come available. Dish Network isn’t the first to come to the table with this milestone proposition. Many have come and gone due to lack of network backing or legal restrictions (remember Aereo or NimbleTV?). Video steaming services, both on-the-demand (e.g. Netflix and Amazon) and live-action (e.g. WatchESPN), have been around for years (adopted as a result of the evolving mobile consumption behavior of consumers), but all of those services previously required a subscription package to your local cable television provider or limited you to streaming at later time periods (e.g. Hulu Plus grants day-after access for prime-time TV shows).

A few months ago, HBO was also rumored to be “unbundling” their premiere shows (e.g. Game Of Thrones) for their younger audiences (Showtime also recently announced it may be following suit). This along with the growth of other current alternatives to television (e.g. Netflix & Amazon) should have major cable networks on the edge of their seats. To compete with this evolving market, they’ll need to adjust their packages or products down the road (especially as rating have been consistently falling and for the first time ever, the number of cable TV subscribers at major providers dropped below 40 million) to account for this new transition to an “a la carte,” or personalized, viewing ecosystem. A new ideology where the consumer has the choice to choose their video streaming services, and not just forced to purchase the entire TV bundle.

Nevertheless, with a large organization like Dish Network backing it up, Sling TV may have the leg up on the previous competition with major in-roads with the premiere networks. Who knows? Sling TV may do for the cable industry what the iTunes did for the music industry – giving consumers the choice of buying just their favorites songs, instead of the entire full CD.

One thing is certain from this trend, the amplification of the mobile viewing experience and second screen will provide another touch point for sports marketers and advertisers to engage with their opt-in fan bases. And with the live streaming component, real-time integration (e.g. targeted advertisements) will allow them to engage with those fans and provide them with content of value when it counts most.  And for the fans, they’ll now have the innate ability to not only consume live-broadcast on-the-go, but they’ll be able to personalize their broadcast consumption channels, and all without the hassle of a remote.

Don’t get me wrong, cable television is far from being completely buried in the coming years, but it appears that cable bundles are destined to die a slow, painful death.

 

Photo Credit: www.thenextweb.com

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