The television broadcasting landscape is changing so quickly these days it’s difficult to predict how things will play out. Local cable providers continue to expand their watch anywhere at anytime presence by pushing on demand, online, and mobile viewing options. Netflix is courting more content providers in an effort to provide more online choices. Hulu is finding its rift between networks widening while it contemplates changing its delivery model. Now Amazon has now joined the party with news that they plan to launch a film and TV streaming service to compete with Netflix and Hulu.
Cable companies like Comcast, Charter, and Time Warner Cable have begun to offer more online options to existing cable TV subscribers. Most cable customers who subscribe to both television and broadband Internet service can view network and cable content on most provider’s websites. This includes not only network and cable channels, but sometimes premium broadcasters such as as HBO, Showtime, and Starz. As more and more users begin to expect to watch TV and movies on mobile devices providers are starting to respond. Netflix and Hulu are already available on streaming devices such as Roku, game machines, and Blu-Ray players. Additionally, both services are available on Apple’s iPhone and iPad and are expected to show up soon on Android devices. Some analysts suspect Cable TV providers want to make sure customers remain cable TV subscribers in the face of ubiquitous online content. Towards those ends, Comcast has announced the release of an iPad app called Xfinity TV that provides Comcast Cable and Broadband Internet subscribers access to streaming programs.
Trying to lure cable customers, news outlets are reporting that Hulu is considering changing their delivery model and moving to live channel and on demand content. By bundling channels into packages similar to what cable and satellite providers offer Hulu hopes to build a new market for end users who are comfortable getting all their entertainment online. At the same time Amazon is set to announce a competing streaming service as a part of their Amazon Prime membership program. Amazon Prime currently offers free shipping on all orders for a yearly fee. By adding streaming movies and TV shows Amazon hopes to pump up their streaming rental and purchase business that has lagged far behind Netflix. In the end, all of these changes should be good for customers. More choices from more competitors will push streaming content further then could even be imagined just a few years ago. The question now is how much are customers willing to spend for the convenience. With so many content providers available, there will be both winners and losers. Right now each one is scrambling in hopes that they’ll remain standing when the dust settles.