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M3: My Morning Musings - TV Options for Cord Cutters

The world of television is soon to get a lot more complicated as Microsoft, via Sling TV, Sony, via Vue, and Apple are all set to take on the industry and deliver content that will rival the traditional cable and satellite providers.  While it is true that we have already seen the industry shaken up with the use of streaming boxes like Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, etc, this is the first time users will have a real reason to “cut the cord” and get rid of their satellite or cable without losing a legal way to watch their favorite shows and content.

Lets start with Apple. How is Apple planning on taking on the cable and satellite TV industry? That is the million dollar question.  They still remain, a secretive company and many of the details for their upcoming TV service haven’t yet been made public.  However, we have learned a few details via some leaks.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that CBS, Disney, Fox, Viacom, and Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, Comedy Central, TLC, MTV, Nickelodeon, will join a total of around 25 channels in the smallest package for around $30 a month. This would be revealed to the world at WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference) in June and be launched in September.  Apple has been rumored to be working on a streaming television service since 2009.  They were later, in 2012, said to be ready to launch the service again but the deals with content providers fell through.  Content Providers now appear eager to be on the Apple TV Streaming service.  Apple, in return, is trying to lure in the industry by offering details on what users watch, when they watch it, and have control on when ads would be shown. 

Apple originally wanted to do offer users channels a la carte, but the content providers seem to still resist this.  Will this new plan of offering data help Apple get their TV service launched this year?  Apple is usually very stingy with what data they offer. But this may be the only way they can get their service out.

Microsoft, on the other hand, has a service ready for the Xbox One with Dish Network’s Sling TV available on the platform. Xbox One is the only console this service is available on but you can also get it on the Amazon Fire TV and Roku. For $20 a month, users can get channels like ESPN, ESPN 2, AMC, Food Network, HGTV, Adult Swim, TBS, and TNT.

When subscribed, you can gain access to Sports Extra for $5 more a month that will include more sports like ESPNews and other ESPN sport channels. There are other $5 add-ons featuring children programming, news, and movies.

The best thing about this service? Its available now and includes sports. Xbox One owners can get a trial for 30 days or 90 days with the purchase of a new Xbox One from the Microsoft Retail Store.

The last of the big three new ways to watch television is Sony’s PlayStation Vue. This is the most expensive of the services and is rolling out now in the New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia markets for $49.99, $59.99, & $69.99.  While the PlayStation Vue is not cheap, it doesn’t lack features. Sony plans on Vue to reinvent Television by first delivering live television.  The highest package, though expensive, will offer an impressive 83 channels. This includes all local channels minus ABC and Disney.  Vue will get rid of the slow interfaces cable and satellite providers have and get rid of the dreadful DVR interfaces by making it really easy to jump into Live TV or watch their favorite shows on demand.  By offering this, Sony hopes users will find new shows to watch as well.

Vue is fast and efficient. While you must use the PS4 controller to move around the interface, the best thing it offers is a cloud based DVR. You hit R1 and you can record up to 500 different shows.  The system will store them for 28 days in the cloud and they will show up in the order they originally aired.  When viewing a TV series like The Simpsons, that you chose to record, you can scroll to the left to view older shows that have been picked up by the DVR recording.

Of the three services, Apple appears to be the most ready to cater to a mass market.  Vue, in my opinion, is the least favorable of the three by offering such a high cost to get content on your TV.  In order to succeed you need to have great pricing.  With that the Sling TV service should do well too but you would need something other than a PlayStation 4 to connect to it.

The future, for cord-cutters looks bright with lots of options and ways to get your favorite shows. It may just be time to kiss that cable and satellite service goodbye!

This is Kaleb Rutherford and these are My Morning Musings.

By Kaleb Rutherford - 03/19/15

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