Stand-Alone Services: Who's Next To Change The Landscape -- Maybe ESPN?

With some of the biggest TV brands starting stand-alone services -- CBS, NBC (with comedy content), Nickelodeon and now HBO with its HBO Now effort -- one wonders not just who is next, but what bigger impact might be made with that move?

One big concern is how to delicately negotiate these new businesses without upsetting the still lucrative TV-distributor apple cart from cable, satellite and telco operators.

From a price point, HBO’s move to HBO Now comes with price integrity. A suggested initial price tag of $14.95 (on the Apple digital platform) make sense. It is virtually the same price tag pay TV companies charge consumers to add on traditional HBO TV channels. A question for some: Will there be live streaming? That might be a little too close to what pay TV providers offers.

For HBO -- and others -- the effort is all around being “additive” -- not really catering to cord-cutters, but instead “cord-nevers.” Additionally, it wants to give an option to those 70 million U.S. TV homes that don’t have any traditional HBO products -- but have a pay TV service.  And of course, HBO needs to keep pace with Netflix.



But perhaps the bigger question is: Who’s next? Will ABC, TBS, USA, Fox, or other major networks make the leap to those stand-alone, non-authenticated TV services?

Bob Iger, chairman/CEO of Walt Disney Co., still favors the current system in large part, believing -- for the moment anyway -- that those “Watch” apps -- Watch ABC, Watch ESPN, Watch Disney -- are doing well enough.

Still, Disney is in fact dipping its toe in the waters. Consumers of Dish Network’s new over-the-top Sling TV can get Disney-ABC TV channels -- including ESPN (as an add-on, for $5 more.)

For many pay TV providers, sports continues to be a big draw -- which means a future stand-alone ESPN OTT service would probably be one of the last services to come online.

Big media owners don’t want to be left out of the mix. So many are testing the waters with modest enterprises -- look at CBS All Access and NBC’s OTT effort around comedy content.

Others are making bigger statements. Who will follow HBO to plant its flag?

5 comments about "Stand-Alone Services: Who's Next To Change The Landscape -- Maybe ESPN? ".
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  1. charles bachrach from BCCLTD, March 11, 2015 at 2:49 p.m.

    It's NOT about the consumers at all, but rather the "bottom line" for
    the networks, their respective stockholders and ownership. If the networks really cared about their viewers, they'd produce some decent programming, not just reality that's 'cheap.' Series programming take time to develop characters, relationships and story lines. Networks want 'instant' gratification. Advertisers need to speak up too! Thank you.

  2. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, March 11, 2015 at 4:32 p.m.

    Charles, you left one out. While they're at it, the networks need to tell advertisers to stop trying to foist their crappy, stupid and irrelevant commercials on consumers. The networks should set up an expert board that decides whether a commercial has merit before airing it. If a commercial doesn't pass muster, the advertiser can go run it on cable, or digital, but not on a broadcast network. Just kidding-------of course.

  3. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, March 11, 2015 at 7:49 p.m.

    Charles, why would anyone think the consumers would ever be consideration number one ? It's always about money. Follow the money means more than those 3 words.

  4. charles bachrach from BCCLTD, March 11, 2015 at 8:16 p.m.

    Ain't that the truth, Paula!

  5. charles bachrach from BCCLTD, March 12, 2015 at 12:07 p.m.

    Ed, your comment about commercials isn't that far "off" Add your
    comments to the fact that the commercial pods contain about two
    minutes (sometimes more) of commercials and there are more of
    them now than ever. Back in the day there was an independent
    board that regulated the number of commercials within programming.

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