It’s funny that not long ago, consumers bellyached about lacking choices in how they received their content. It was either the local cable operator, or satellite, and every package was fat.
Now, content is a many splintered thing and eventually, that could turn out badly, too.
On Tuesday, Fox introduced a new and improved Fox Now app that will package the Fox network, FX and National Geographic, live and catalogued. In the near future, Fox Sports channels will get added in. Right now, all of this is available only through Apple TV though that will expand, too.
The good thing about this new Fox Now is that authentication will become one-stop shopping for Fox networks. Why that authentication business wasn’t cleaned up long ago is a good question, even if it’s just me posing it. The authentication process is an incredible buzzkill. No news there.
The bigger question is: “What for?”
The headline for the new service on the Broadcasting & Cable site reads: “Fox Launches New Streaming Video App” with the subhead: “Content from broadcast network, FX and National Geographic available in one place.” If you were writing a sub-subhead, it could be: “Just like it already is, in lots of other places, including regular old TV.”
That’s why I’m unsure about Fox Now.
At a time skinny-bundle streaming services are popping up nearly weekly, plus Hulu, having one handy place to watch Fox networks could be one place too many. A consumer can already go to Playstation Vue, DirecTV Now, Sling TV and soon, YouTube TV, to get most or all of of what Fox Now is offering in a new package.
All you ever hear about is how viewers don’t watch networks, they watch programs. Certainly, a network app — especially one that joins several networks into one spot — is handy but it doesn’t sound revolutionary. In fact, it seems kind of late to the party.
More likely it’s all about advertising.
Bloomberg news speculates the new app for dynamic ad insertion schemes coordinated by TrueX, the digital ad company Fox bought in 2015.
I wonder if there are entrepreneurs who believe that as cable morphs into a new digital reality, viewers will pay for all the content they now get at a more seamless cost from cable. I don’t think so, mainly because real a la carte buying that apps help requires a consumer to make a conscious choice about what they’re buying.
Add up enough monthly app bills and Netflix begins to look better and better.