My place in Brooklyn has cable TV, YouTube TV, Hulu, and I’ve tried DirecTV Now, Sling, and PlayStation Vue. There are more streaming video services than I can count, and more than I want to try. See, I’m trying to cut the cable TV cord but so far everything reminds my of high quality cable TV, circa 1999.
Pay Per View
My father’s home still has an antenna on top of the building and he told me it still works (although I doubt he’s tried it out since cable was installed last century). Back in the day, television consisted of half a dozen channels of dubious quality. For free. Cable TV changed that with higher quality, more channels, and a monthly price tag.
A mere two decades later we still have cable TV, the number of channels is up about 10 fold, and so is the monthly price tag. If choice is your game, then streaming TV is the name, and most of them bring us cable TV from 1999. Higher quality video, yes, but limited choice and a healthy monthly price tag.
What does Apple’s new Apple TV Channels do? It aggregates what we already view into a single source of video. That’s smart. What does Apple TV+ do? Video content we cannot get elsewhere. For a price. An unknown price.
Otherwise, all the other streaming TV sources have much the same video fare; a bunch of network TV shows, some unique content, perhaps a few local TV channels, options to watch on multiple devices, and a few even with DVR-like video recording and playback capability. Monthly prices start at $15 but YouTube TV just went to $50 a month; the most expensive of those I’ve tested or considered.
YouTube TV and DirecTV Now come in a $50 a month so start, Hulu Live TV, Fubo TV, and PlayStation Vue come in at $45 a month, Sling and others start at $25 a month. See? Cable TV, circa 1999, but with higher quality video.
The advantage of streaming television vs. cable TV is mobility. I can run most of the above on my iPhone or iPad, but even Spectrum is in the portable game with options to run video content on multiple devices, too.
So far, the biggest problem I’ve run into while trying to figure out how to bring home the future of TV is less price and more content.
For example, YouTube TV does not have HBO or Hallmark while DirecTV Now does. So, what we need is a scorecard. David Katzmaier has the best one, but you need to make a list of the networks and channels you want to watch and then compare to the list of what is available on each one. Even then, the list only displays the top 100 TV channels.
Apple TV+ will only add to the confusion.