The cord-cutting dreaming has given route to a stark reality: Streaming TV is a mess. And on Tuesday, it only got messier, as DirecTV rolled out their entry into the category, DirecTV Now, launching Wednesday 😛 TAGEND
Shalini Ramachandran (@ shalini) November 28, 2016
Also: It’s not even available on Roku until 2017.
Again and again, we hear that the goal of tech companies is to create a product that “just works, ” as Apple’s Steve Jobs might say.
And even though it’s a bit pricy, cable Tv still offers that experience over streaming: You turn it on. You flip the channel. You DVR a prove, or you don’t. At its most recent product launching, Apple looked to apply that supposing to its new TV app.
“The TV app shows you what to watch next and easily detect TV reveals and movies from many apps in a single place, ” Apple’s Eddy Cue said in a press releaseaccompanying the launch.
“Many apps” being the key phrase there. Apple’s new Tv app, which is supposed to roll all of your streaming alternatives into one place, is somehow missing both Netflix and Amazon, two of the biggest streaming services on the planet.
Consumers right now face an inscrutable, virtually Kafka-esque web of hardware, apps and service decisions that each offer somewhat different packages of content at different costs, which may or may not be obtained on whatever device you’ve get plugged into your Tv. God help you if you want to watch local broadcast channels or particular athletics teams.
That is not something that “just works.”
With so many imperfect alternatives, cable TV is somehow beginning to look like the very thing Apple’s always classically offered: A pricey, but ultimately superior product.
Streaming, on the other hand, isn’t that. It might get there eventually, and there’s good reason to expect more services, which will force companies to compete more for your money.
More services, however, won’t inevitably fix the streaming problem. If anything, the number of companies with different conflicting interests hereGoogle, Amazon, Apple, Time Warner, AT& T, Comcast/ NBCUniversal, Fox, CBS, Netflix, Viacom and moreis a massive, unremovable part of their own problems. Take, for example, the distorted relationship between Netflix and Apple 😛 TAGEND
Apple’s new TV app is an effort to own the entire interface used by anyone with an Apple TV streaming box. If everyone begins using that app, it starts to represent power Apple can exert against companies like Netflix. Apple could start pushing Netflix to share revenue with them, or be left out of the app, conceivably leaving Netflix out in the cold.
Which, of course, resembles the present cable situation. The vast majority of homes have a single cable provider, which owns that connection with the customer. This gives cable companies a huge amount of leverage when negotiating carrier costs with cable channels.
That kind of bottleneck doesn’t exist on the internet. As a consumer, you get to go grab whatever content you want, without your internet provider having much of a say about it( at least, for now ).
Yet, despite the mess that is streaming media right now, the near future appears good for customers. As more people cut the cord and subscribe to these services, wins and losers will emerge. The wins will have more power to negotiate with hold-outs, and simpler, more complete alternatives will emerge, competing for customer dollars.
The downside is it could be years before that happens. These companies are deadlocked in competitor, and with streaming still in its infancy, they’re fighting hard to put themselves in advantageous postures. Amazon wants you to stream through their hardware. Apple wants you to stream through theirs. Netflix wants to be anywhere and everywhere, as long as it’s still controlling its own interface. And DirecTV wants to be … something like everything( and aimed up, somehow, mostly like nothing ).
For now, there are some tools out there to help you sort out the mess of streaming options into something a bit more clean. JustWatch provides a much-needed cross-service interface with up-to-date listings of what is available. Reelgood is the app that Apple arguably wanted to make.
And maybe one day they’ll make it. In the meantime, streaming Tv, at its best, still needs a fix. It requires spectators to do a little legwork and can be rewarding when they do. It doesn’t “just work, ” unless its as a work-in-progress.