A few years back, the television industry focused on bringing a new initiative to the masses called TV Everywhere. The plan was simple — more programming and channels on more devices, over the span of five years. But, although the revenue added to the services can be in the billions, the actual rollout has been slow to advance, mainly because many networks want as much control as possible, which can go against having TV in as many places as possible.
Time Warner and Comcast started the plan about three years ago, with the goal being to have channels available where consumers were, including on the Web and on mobile devices. Because there has been so much content streaming from the Web, in many different genres, cable felt it might be locked out because people could watch shows for free instead of paying a large cable bill.
Companies such as Netflix and Hulu have made progress. They are targeting original content as part of their going-forward plan, but the presence of cable TV is a little slower to advance.
The problem is the cable companies must negotiate a separate contract for each individual channel, something that could take months to iron out. With consumers used to hundreds of channels to choose from, the fact that online and with mobile devices they have to choose from a slimmer 50 or 60 is not as appealing.
YouTube, Netflix, Hulu and others are now focused on original content, and the next few years will see hit shows happening off network. This has cable companies very worried. Just as subscriber numbers spiked when The Sorpranos came back on HBO, so would an alternate network or service once it created a hit show that did not start on broadcast.
Progress is being made, with success stories such as HBO Go offering subscribers a wealth of content online and also on tablets/phones. But the cable networks and operators have a long way to go before alternate streaming networks catch up with hit shows and compelling alternatives.