We all cut cable, and now we’re just as screwed on streaming

A POORER ALTERNATIVE

Until now, most of these live TV streaming services have offered just enough value to justify their monthly fee – customers got live TV with lower quality and reliability than cable, but also a lower price and more freedom of choice. Subscribers can cancel anytime, choose their own equipment, and, assuming the network is actually fast enough, even watch at least some of their favorite programming on the go.

AT&T just snatched up one of the biggest media companies in the world.

On the surface, it sounds like a square deal, and with packages starting at $20 to $30 per month, it was. But at $40, the value of live TV streaming diminishes to the point that it’s more appealing for many potential customers to simply stick with old-guard TV. Combine your $40 charge for streaming TV with $40 or $50 per month for internet, and what do you get? A bill that looks a lot like what you’d pay for cable. Add in Netflix or Amazon Prime, and you’re already pushing $100 per month or more — and that’s not counting premium channels like HBO.

We’re back to escalating prices, and meager alternatives. Factor in the poorer quality and reliability of streaming, and the dream of freeing one’s self from the bonds of cable and satellite begins to lose its appeal quickly. What happened?

BROKEN PROMISES

Consolidation, for one. Just look at AT&T, which just hiked the price of its DirecTV Now service.

The massive telecom recently snatched up one of the biggest media companies in the world in a multibillion-dollar merger with Time Warner Inc. (following a similarly massive acquisition of DirecTV in 2014). AT&T’s latest acquisition consolidated dozens of media properties under its umbrella, including TV networks like CNN, HBO, and TBS as well as the entire Warner Bros. film and TV empire, just to name a few. They might’ve been duking it out between each other by offering lower prices and better service, but now they serve one master.