TBS and TNT will offer full live feeds online to subscribers beginning this summer, making them the first cable networks to do so, according to USA Today. Depending on the subscription package, viewers can even watch live MLB and NBA games. There won’t be many restrictions for viewers, according to Cable.tv. The TBS and TNT streams can be watched anywhere, anytime, on multiple devices. Unlike on-demand services from HBO, TBS and TNT will offer a continuous feed showing the same content you’d see on the TV, in real time. The catch: like HBO, you won’t have access to the streaming unless you have a proper cable or satellite subscription.
About Online Streaming
Currently, online streaming is either offered as an add-on to cable or satellite service, such as HBO Go, or as a stand alone package that offers older programming, such as Netflix and Hulu. Right now, there isn’t an online streaming package that features current programming without requiring a cable or satellite subscription. However, there are rumors that HBO may be considering offering its online streaming service as a stand alone package. According to the Los Angeles Times, Time Warner, one of the nation’s largest cable companies and HBO’s parent company, denies this, saying that such an offer could alienate their pay-TV customers.
One reason for cable networks to release programming via online streaming is to stop the pirating of their hit shows. Just last month, the popular HBO series, “Game of Thornes” was downloaded more than a million times in a single day via the file-sharing site, BitTorrent, according to TorrentFreak. Many of these downloads came from countries, like Australia and Great Britain, where the series hasn’t yet been released. Online streaming could help networks like HBO stop such rampant piracy.
The TBS & TNT Package vs. Netflix & Hulu
Does the move by TBS and TNT make sense given the huge foothold Netflix and Hulu already have on the online streaming market? After all, Netflix has more than 27 million streaming customers, according to the Huffington Post, and Hulu has amassed more than three million subscribers to their online streaming programming in just four years, as noted in a recent post on Hulu’s corporate blog. However, it would be foolish to discount any move by Turner Broadcasting. Just ask the people who thought that CNN would never interest viewers when it debuted in 1980.
Is it time to cut the cable cord? Probably not, at least for viewers who like to watch the latest, hottest shows. However, as the average American household has watched their cable bill increase more than 30 percent in the last five years, nearly twice the U.S. rate of inflation, more and more Americans have had enough, according to ABC News. According to WebProNews, approximately nine percent of Americans have already opted to go without cable or satellite television service and an additional 11 percent are contemplating such a move. The New York Times reports that television ownership in the United States has dropped from an all time high of 98.9 percent of all households to 96.7 percent in 2012. Clearly, these aren’t numbers that will keep cable executives awake at night. However, as more and more Americans are questioning the value of TV, it’s wise for television companies to look for new ways to engage their audience. Perhaps the TBS and TNT move to live streaming is the kind of thing cable and satellite companies will eventually need to do to hang onto their viewers.