The New Virtual Pay TV Plan: Do It Yourself

New virtual multichannel video program distributors (vMVPDs) services offer the promise of easy accessibility and installation when they replace cable, satellite or telco services.

But that was so 2017. Think more about a do-it-yourself pay TV world.

AT&T says the next generation of home technology for DirecTV Now, its internet-delivered live, linear TV service, won’t come from an installation person traveling via DirecTV truck. It will come from a UPS or FedEx truck guy dropping a box in front of your door.

Speaking at an industry event this week, John Stephens, CFO, AT&T, said DirecTV Now will begin sending out “self-install” boxes beginning next year. They will save money on DirecTV installation technicians. Earlier this year, Stephens talked up a “very low end” $15-a-month AT&T ‘Watch’ service.



With profit-margins already thin for many of these new live, linear TV services -- like Sling TV, DirecTV Now, Hulu with Live TV, Playstation Vue, and fuboTV -- operators need to know how to save money.

But this may not be enough for pure “cord-cutters” who don’t want to get anywhere near traditional pay TV services or new virtual pay TV providers. (The latter comes from many traditional media companies.)

One relatively new entry comes from technology company SiliconDust and its HDHomeRun service, built on its HDHomeRun connected TV tuners devices. In particular, this technology targets cord-cutting consumers who already (or will get) digital TV antennas. These HDHomeRun tuners are priced anywhere from $69.99 to $179.99.

Until now, cord cutters were forced to cobble together multiple services and applications to break free from their traditional cable, satellite or telco companies.

Where are the savings here? It comes from accessing free over-the-air digital signals via digital antenna, then wrapping it into a package of lower-cost cable networks.

HDHomeRun Premium TV “augments free live local broadcast TV with 45 top cable TV channels via the internet with no long-term commitments. It is priced at $34.99 per month for 45 “premium” TV channels. Networks include ESPN, National Geographic Channel, Paramount Network, TNT, HGTV, CNBC, and Syfy -- to name a few.

Still, this doesn’t sound that cheap compared to vMVPDs or traditional pay TV services. But the sell seems to be offering “freedom” from long-term or hard-to-drop agreements of pay TV providers.

All this comes as many virtual pay TV providers inch up pricing plans -- now a little more than $20 a month for the most basic plans to around $45 per month for PlayStation Vue and fuboTV.

But are people already complaining about new vMVPDs?

If there is a problem in future years with any new pay TV system, you’ll have no one to blame but yourself.

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