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Mace & Crown | April 30, 2017

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Cutting the Cord: Cable Alternatives

Cutting the Cord: Cable Alternatives

Audra Reigle | Assistant Technology Editor

It’s probably safe to assume that you’re a broke college student or at least one on a fixed budget, and you want something to watch. Cable TV might be available to you, perhaps for free if you’re in one of the dorms, but cable TV is limited and is filled with ads. Fortunately, there are many streaming service alternatives available, like Netflix and Hulu. Here is a rundown of the most popular streaming options available for the budget-conscious student.

AMC is preparing to launch a streaming service of their own, according to The Verge. It is meant to be “an ad-free subscription video service that would be exclusively available to cable TV customers.” Users would pay an extra $4.99 to $6.99 per month in addition to their normal TV bill. So right away, it’s not quite as appealing as a streaming service that has only one price. The service “could feature exclusive ‘digital-only spinoff shows of existing programs.”

But AMC’s soon to be launched streaming service isn’t the only one out there, and they’re all stealing subscribers from traditional TV companies. “Pay-TV companies lost nearly 800,000 video subscribers last year, almost twice as many as a year before,” according to the LA Times. When you’re a college student on a budget, paying upwards of $100 a month for a service where you’ll only watch a few channels out of the hundred or so you’ll get isn’t exactly the best use of your money. The draw of streaming services over traditional TV is so strong that the term “cable cutting” has arisen in common parlance to refer to people who outright cancel their cable subscription and exclusively use internet and streaming services.

Streaming services have been around since 2008, when Netflix was launched, according to The Guardian. Hulu has their own streaming service, which also started in 2008. Amazon started their Prime Instant Video service in 2011, according to Engadget. Since then, streaming has taken off as a major source of media consumption for many people. The trend shows no signs of slowing down as some services, like Netflix, have begun transitioning from offering previously-aired content to making their own original content.

The future of streaming TV shows could involve “entertainment drugs,” according to Thrillist. The idea stems from a comment Reed Hastings, Netflix CEO, made at a 2016 technology conference where Hastings wondered if the future of streaming could be “pharmacological.” Geoffrey Woo, Nootrobox co-founder and CEO, told Thrillist that “[he] is confident that the human body is the next frontier for technological innovation.”

With the growth of streaming services comes the growth of jobs as well. Hulu is planning to create new jobs and offer 24-hour customer service and a live TV on-demand service, according to the San Antonio Business Journal. The company is planning to open a new customer viewer experience operations headquarters in either San Antonio or Albuquerque, New Mexico by fall 2017. A final decision has not been made on the location, but it is slated to bring 500 jobs to the area.

As streaming services grow, their appeal grows as well. Traditional cable TV companies’ response to losing subscribers has seemingly been to increase their prices on their remaining subscribers, or impose more limitations. So switching to a good streaming service seems even more paramount as time goes on.