Video Streams Bandy About The 'Free' Word - Is It?

Want to gain quick attention for your new TV and/or media business with the right words? Make sure you have a “free” reference. That gets consumers focused -- even if they know there is probably a catch.

Apple may be launching a streaming service at month's end that will include original content and other offerings.

Some original content from Apple will reportedly be free and housed in the “TV” app -- pre-installed on iOS devices like iPhones. Users can also subscribe to other TV network content, like Starz, from within the app, according to CNBC.

In part, this jumps off a recent NBCUniversal announcement: a big ad-supported streaming service, as well as an ad-free, subscription option, is coming late next year. NBC isn’t using the word “free,” but CEO Stephen Burke did allude to the effort.



You know, it started as a “free” idea -- with only the cost of a TV set, some electricity, and enduring messaging from those who want to sell you stuff.

Already, there are free ad-supported OTT services with TV/video content, such as Pluto TV, The Roku Channel, Crackle and Tubi, which after four years now says it is profitable.

Still, many of these efforts don’t contain new premium TV content, and/or don’t offer a live, linear package of TV networks. There is also the matter of an internet connection, with broadband services costing $70 a month or more.

For its part, NBCUniversal, Apple, and others may believe competing with Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and perhaps others coming from Disney and WarnerMedia -- with no-advertising, subscription services for $10 to $13 a month -- is already a glutted marketplace. The door for that limited overall monthly consumer OTT budget -- anywhere from $20 to $40 -- is closing fast. 

So turn to a “free” ad-supported platform -- or perhaps low-cost ad-supported platforms, such as CBS All Access.

Is this where the marketplace is going? Is it coming apart at the seams? Or just learning a lesson from the past — when TV started 80 years ago?

1 comment about "Video Streams Bandy About The 'Free' Word - Is It?".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, March 12, 2019 at 10:52 a.m.

    When TV started 80 years ago, there was no wired connection between the viewer and the station. Thus, there was no way, except program sponsorships or spot advertising, to get paid. Europe tried taxes and state-run programming and we resorted to commercials. Being the only way to pay for the programming, audiences "accepted" the intrusive ads as a payment, as if they had a real choice. But now there is a choice. Ads may supplement the "free" streams but my new Enounce audio encoder speeds them up 3x at my behest, well into unintelligible. It's still a cat-and-mouse game to avoid ads because, surprise, many people still hate commercials, almost all the time.

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