What is hard about stream­ing TV on­line

Kuwait Times - - TECHNOLOGY -

As more peo­ple watch TV over the in­ter­net, the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try has “to get on board with it,” said Roger Lynch, the CEO of Sling TV. Sling, which is owned by satel­lite TV com­pany Dish Net­work, was one of the first ser­vices to of­fer pack­ages of pop­u­lar cable chan­nels over the in­ter­net, threat­en­ing cable’s dom­i­nance. Prices start at $20 a month for a core group of chan­nels in­clud­ing ESPN and AMC; pack­ages with other chan­nels cost ex­tra. By com­par­i­son, the av­er­age cable bill is $100, ac­cord­ing to re­search from Le­icht­man Re­search Group.

Even as fewer house­holds pay for tra­di­tional TV ser­vices, new in­ter­net-TV op­tions could help ma­jor TV net­works add back some lost sub­scribers. DirecTV is ex­pected to launch a ser­vice this year and Hulu has one com­ing in 2017.

In an in­ter­view with The As­so­ci­ated Press, Lynch talks about how stream­ing TV is go­ing main­stream and why he couldn’t do “a la carte” TV - pay­ing only for the chan­nels you ac­tu­ally watch. Ques­tions and re­sponses have been edited for clar­ity and length.

How has the mar­ket changed since Sling launched in Fe­bru­ary 2015?

There are about 21 mil­lion homes without pay TV. Of those, 16 mil­lion are cord-nev­ers

(peo­ple who have never signed up) and 5 mil­lion are cord-cut­ters. We were fo­cused on those mar­kets. What we’ve seen since then is a dra­matic shift. Con­sumers are leav­ing tra­di­tional pay TV at much higher rates. We see that shift as a large op­por­tu­nity for us.

Are TV chan­nel com­pa­nies like NBCUniver­sal, Dis­ney and Fox look­ing at you dif­fer­ently?

When we first started talk­ing to pro­gram­mers, there was skep­ti­cism. There was con­cern about whether it would cause cord-cut­ting. What’s hap­pened since then, they’ve ac­cepted it’s re­ally the fu­ture of pay TV. Con­sumer be­hav­ior is chang­ing.

Why can’t you let viewers choose just the chan­nels they want - an “a la carte” model rather than cre­at­ing a sys­tem of mini-bun­dles and add-ons?

That would be ideal. But that doesn’t work for pro­gram­mers. That un­der­mines their busi­ness model. Truly a la carte wouldn’t be enough rev­enue for pro­gram­mers. It is a bit of a com­pro­mise.

Can you do more to let peo­ple pick their own chan­nels?

I don’t think there’s a whole lot more. We’ve cre­ated ex­tremely flex­i­ble op­tions within the bounds of what I know is achiev­able, given the struc­ture of the in­dus­try. Gee, wouldn’t it be nice if I can just sell in­di­vid­ual chan­nels? I know the eco­nom­ics won’t work so there’s no point in try­ing to push for that.

Do you face in­creas­ing com­pe­ti­tion from chan­nels like HBO and CBS com­ing out with their own ser­vices?

Our ob­jec­tive has never been to be the en­tire video ser­vice. We want to be a piece of that puz­zle. They might take us with an an­tenna or Net­flix. That’s fine.

Do con­sumers watch on TV or out­side the house?

Over 40 per­cent of our cus­tomers watch on mo­bile phones. Pre­vi­ously we know that most of that was be­ing watched on Wi-Fi net­works.

Is that chang­ing with more phone com­pa­nies pro­mot­ing un­lim­ited-data plans?

I ex­pect what we’ll see is an in­crease in mo­bile view­ing over­all. —AP

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