business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

There was a Bloomberg story this week saying that "YouTube is working on a paid subscription service called Unplugged that would offer customers a bundle of cable TV channels streamed over the Internet ... The project, for which YouTube has already overhauled its technical architecture, is one of the online video giant’s biggest priorities and is slated to debut as soon as 2017."

At the same time, the Washington Post reports that the Hulu online streaming service "is looking into offering live-streaming content from a handful of cable channels as part of a service that could cost about $40 per month ... The new service could launch in the first quarter of 2017 and would also include a digital DVR service..."

I think these are important shifts - and not just because they suggest that how and where we watch pretty much everything is going to change in fundamental ways, replacing traditionally bundled services with an a la carte approach that will put consumers in greater control of what they see.

Now, it may also cost consumers more money in the long run, though that is still to be determined. I cannot help but feel that if I want to watch four or five different programs that are appearing on four or five different services, I may end up paying four or five different fees. I have this sneaking feeling that this could end up costing me more money than, say, traditional cable packages as supplemented by the occasional - or not so occasional - iTunes or Netflix purchase. Add to that the potential feels that I may eventually have to pay to watch events like the Super Bowl or the World Series, and suddenly it could start to add up.

There are some essential questions that will end up being asked and answered - like, how much control is worth to the average consumer. The answers, I think, will be an Eye-Opener ... and will give us clearer sight lines into consumer mindsets and priorities.
KC's View: