In line with a report from CNN, WarnerMedia plans to launch its personal streaming service within the fourth quarter of 2019, including to rising checklist of OTT (over-the-top) providers that bypass cable suppliers and produce tv collection and flicks on to viewers—most of them for a month-to-month charge.
The group (previously Time Warner) has a number of TV-content networks underneath its umbrella, together with HBO, Turner, and Warner Bros. Turner’s property embody CNN, TNT, TBS, Cartoon Community, Turner Basic Motion pictures, and others. Warner Bros. produces collection equivalent to The Large Bang Principle, The Voice, and The Bachelor for distribution on different networks, in addition to characteristic movies like Loopy Wealthy Asians, Surprise Lady, Blade Runner 2049, Prepared Participant One, and Dunkirk. Warner Bros. additionally owns DC Comics.
And naturally HBO produces and distributes authentic collection like Recreation of Thrones, Intercourse and the Metropolis, Westworld, and Silicon Valley, amongst others, in addition to documentaries and different movies and specials.
WarnerMedia was acquired by communications and media behemoth AT&T in June. As viewer habits shift to skipping cable suppliers, networks like HBO and Turner which have historically trusted licensing charges from cable tv suppliers have begun shifting their focus to “direct-to-consumer” distribution through streaming video in an effort to outlive the transition.
And in case you’re pondering, “Wait, HBO already has a streaming service—truly, two,” you are proper. HBO Now serves viewers who do not need to get the channel by means of a conventional cable TV package deal, and HBO Go streams episodes and movies to viewers who subscribe to the cable channel.
In line with a report in July shortly after the AT&T acquisition, it did not take lengthy for the corporate to begin speaking about plans to shake issues up on the boutique channel. AT&T executives stated then that they need to transfer HBO in direction of creating extra content material with distribution to cellular units in thoughts, even when meaning shaking up the method (for instance, producing 20 minute episodes as a substitute of 60 minutes) or a drop in high quality.
AT&T government and WarnerMedia division CEO John Stankey was quoted saying the next in a New York Instances report:
“We’d like hours a day,” Mr. Stankey stated, referring to the time viewers spend watching HBO packages. “It is not hours every week, and it isn’t hours a month. We’d like hours a day. You’re competing with units that sit in individuals’s arms that seize their consideration each 15 minutes.”
Persevering with the theme, he added: “I need extra hours of engagement. Why are extra hours of engagement necessary? Since you get extra knowledge and details about a buyer that then permits you to do issues like monetize by means of alternate fashions of promoting in addition to subscriptions, which I believe is essential to play in tomorrow’s world.”
With the inclusion of HBO, Turner, and Warner Bros. properties, this new service sounds so much like what Stankey was describing—although that doesn’t preclude the anticipated modifications at HBO from taking place as nicely.
The brand new service can be nearer in scale to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, or the upcoming Disney streaming service than it will be to channel-specific providers like HBO Now or CBS All Entry. Whereas it is smart for particular person networks to supply their content material, I am undecided how a lot room there’s for extra of those high-volume, big-tent providers.
The proliferation of streaming providers
Some viewers are pissed off that the proliferation of channel-based providers like HBO Now and CBS All Entry is in the end going to result in twine cutters spending as a lot as they as soon as spent on cable packages to maintain up with every thing. Some hoped service like Netflix would supply nearly every thing for under $10 per thirty days.
In fact, the economics of that $10 per thirty days thought have been by no means even near viable; TV collection are costly to make, and they’re dangerous investments besides. Many fail, so like enterprise capitalists who again Silicon Valley startups, studio executives must account for the prices of a number of failures along with a number of successes when budgeting new programming. Even Netflix doesn’t produce authentic content material in a quantity to match what is accessible in a cable package deal.
And if we we have been simply a bunch of particular person channel-based providers, it will nonetheless be a greater deal for some twine cutters than earlier than from conventional cable packages. Channels can be unbundled, permitting viewers to decide on which programming is price paying for, and costs wouldn’t contain a heavy subsidy for ESPN and different sports activities networks for viewers who are usually not fascinated about them.
Nevertheless, it might in the end make gaining access to all the identical content material cable subscribers get now costlier. If a cable package deal contains 200 channels for $80 month-to-month and a channel expenses a mean of $10 per thirty days for its OTT service, then viewers who need entry to every thing they bought earlier than might find yourself paying extra like a preposterous $2,000 for a similar factor. In actuality, although, most channels nonetheless do not supply devoted streaming providers exterior of cable packages, and cable-like bundles would seemingly emerge to handle the issue in the event that they did—then we might be proper again the place we began.
As for customers who nonetheless subscribe to conventional cable and for whom these streaming providers are simply additive, there are aren’t any ifs, ands, or buts about it: the month-to-month charges are mounting.
Projecting the end result for customers is additional muddied by providers like these coming from Disney and WarnerMedia, which might in impact be multi-network, cable-like packages in their very own proper, provided that these corporations personal many networks and properties.
If this all sounds messy and unsure, that is as a result of it’s—for everyone. In tandem with tech corporations, the TV business goes by means of a seismic shift. We nonetheless do not know what the panorama will seem like after the shaking ends, and that is no less than as unsettling for customers as it’s for the businesses whose futures are unsure.