Let’s say you were a customer of a gargantuan fascistic cable service that was twice the recipient of the Consumerist’s prestigious “Worst Company in America” title.
Let’s say you were sick at heart every month writing a check for $64 knowing that next year it will be higher, and if you ever need repair service, you cannot rationally expect a truck to appear within a four-hour window. Let’s say a few years back when one of your heroic fellow Americans started a Web site called “Comcast Must Die,” including not one but two theme songs, you were ready yourself to die for the cause.
You, my friend, are a potential cord-cutter. You’ve been champing at the bit for streaming services to offer a large enough array of programming so you can call the cable company and tell them to pound sand. No premium tier. No triple play. No basic cable. Just broadband, thank you, with which to strangle the SOBs. Because now you want to use that co-ax to stream your shows without paying Big Cable for their overstuffed bundles. Death to tyrants!
You have your Apple TV, or your Roku, or your Blu-Ray, or your Chromecast Dongle or your game console and you are ready to go over the top. And now that your favorite music streaming service, Spotify, is poised to announce its video version, the time has come!
Liberte! Egalite! Par-tay! Cut the cord! Create your own bundle of movies and TV shows without being under the heel of The Man! Freedom!
Or not. Let us do some arithmetic, shall we? Let’s say you like movies, sports, hit broadcast and premium cable series and, who knows, Anime. Here’s the tab:
Sling TV, $20 per month.
HBO Now, $15 per month.
Netflix, $9 per month.
Hulu Plus, $8 per month.
Amazon Prime, $8.25, per month
Crunchyroll, $7 per month
CBS, $6 per month.
MLB.com, $10 per month.
The grand total is $83.25 per month, which is $19 a month more than the average U.S. cable bill…plus whatever Spotify is going to charge you for whatever it is planning to stream. Plus whatever all future streaming services fetch for their feeds. In other words, what we have here is the first stage of a big problem. And if the cord-cutting proceeds apace, devastating a cable industry already reeling from the chaos of the advertising marketplace, it takes little imagination to imagine wholesale disintermediation and the end of Big Cable as we know it.
Which, once again, may get you giddy with schadenfreude, but don’t celebrate just yet. First of all, multibillion-dollar companies accustomed to controlling distribution don’t just fade away; they obtain it by other means. You, of course, remember the ill-fated AOL-Time-Warner? How about AOL-Comcast? How about Verizon-Yahoo?
And how about your monthly entertainment bill? Spotify won’t be the last OTT entrant. Consumers have been agitating for a la carte and now here it is. Freedom, as we have often been told, comes at a price. We’ve also been told this:
Be careful what you wish for. Because getting it may make you someday look back nostalgically at cable fascism.