When it comes to the way we choose our television programming, with cable, satellite, and Internet streaming, today's technology gives consumers more choice than ever before. Many consumers are choosing live streaming over traditional television services, and cutting the cable cord.
"Linear channels on a TV set are now but only one way to access and watch video," says Tim Hanlon, a telecommunications consultant and founder of The Vertere Group, which provides strategic consulting for businesses involved in media, marketing, and technology. As a result, fewer people are choosing traditional television services to watch their favorite programs.
In an effort to win back subscribers who have jumped ship for Internet TV streaming, cable companies are offering new programs, products, and services specifically geared towards winning cord-cutters.
Keep reading to learn more…
Packages with Streaming Options
One option more viewers want is the ability to purchase specific specialty channels or movies, instead of an entire package of pay-TV channels they just aren't interested in. Cable providers have taken note, and are now offering more flexible options to reflect consumer demand.
"Comcast recently began a promotion that offers cable TV service, broadband Internet, plus a subscription to HBO for as low as $40 per month," says David Bakke, consumer expert at the personal finance website, moneycrashers.com. It includes a 25 Mbps Internet connection, a basic TV lineup of 10 channels, Comcast's streaming video service Streampix, and a subscription to HBO and HBO Go.
This lets consumers watch their favorite television shows without paying for a large cable package -including many channels and shows they don't want to watch.
Another option for video streaming from a traditional cable provider is Instant Redbox.
"Verizon and RedBox have a joint effort called RedBox Instant by Verizon," says Bill Kula, director of media relations for Verizon Communications Inc. "It provides for the ability to order DVDs or watch titles via video streaming." According to the RedBox Instant website, subscribers get four DVD credits per month, plus the ability to stream hit movies from a variety of devices, and no other Verizon service is required.
Another way cable providers may lure cord cutters back is with the promise of no long-term commitment. The lack of a long-term contract is what has basketball fan, Jason Simms, of Connecticut, returning to Comcast every fall.
"I actually seasonally cut cable," Simms says. "I have Comcast (with no contract) during the basketball season, then turn off the cable for the summer." Simms says he uses Netflix on his Roku during the summer, when he doesn't usually watch much TV because he's outside having fun.
"The only thing I need cable for is sports," says Simms, "and the sport I care enough to pay the outrageous cable prices for is college basketball and the NBA Playoffs." He can get regular season NBA games via League Pass on his Roku, but not the playoffs or coverage of the local teams.
Simms says his plan makes sense and saves him money.
"One major advantage to this cycle is that Comcast always seems to raise my rate around the time I cut for the summer and then give me a special deal when I call them again in the fall. I've done this three years in a row now."
And Comcast isn't the only game in town.
"Time Warner Cable also has a program in place where you can get cable TV without having to sign a long-term contract," says Bakke.
Low Prices and Free Gifts
From free tablets and free gift cards to free DVR service, cable and satellite companies are pulling out all the stops to entice customers.
And that's exactly how they lured Patrick Taaffe, a 40-something resident of Hoboken, New Jersey, back to cable TV.
"I cut cable TV in 2011 while I was changing jobs," says Taaffe, who also says he quite enjoyed life without cable. "I found life to be interesting without cable TV: I watched movies and TV series on Netflix, and streamed Comedy Central shows."
However, there were some cable TV shows that were getting a lot of buzz - like AMC's "Mad Men" and "Walking Dead" - both of which got Taaffe interested in the prospect of cable again. He also liked the idea of being able to watch the shows in real time and discussing it with his friends.
Taaffe eventually went back to cable television in 2012 when he saw a special offer from Optimum Online. It included a free DVR rental for one year, and a reduced rate on cable, Internet and phone.
The free perk and low rate was enough to get Taaffe's attention.
"In the end, what drew me back was the special offer from my cable provider," he says.
Customized Bundles and Packages
Customized packages are another product used by cable and satellite companies to target new customers, and win back cord-cutters.
For example, DirecTV offers international foreign language packages geared towards consumers who want to watch TV in their native language. International packages include channels from across the globe, including Brazil, China, Philippines, Korea, Russia and Vietnam for as low as $45.99 a month, according to their website. These customized channels allow consumers to get the content they actually want to watch at reasonable price.
In addition to customized channels, consumers can also pick and choose what services they want in a bundle. Previously, consumers were limited to bundling only Internet, TV, and home phone. However, in an effort to keep and entice customers, some providers like AT&T, Comcast, and Time Warner Cable also offer the option to bundle cell service. Select providers also give their customers an option of customizing a package to include home security services.
The Bottom Line
With more Internet-based TV options now available, cable and satellite providers understand that they need to optimize their products and reduce prices in order to retain customers. So, in addition to what we've already mentioned, don't be surprised to see providers offering more perks and services that cater to consumers' budgets and needs.
Watch the video below on how Comcast and Time Warner cable merger affect cable cutters:
- Arts & Entertainment
- cable companies