A few months ago I wrote about how sports fans can save more than 50 percent on their cable and internet bills without missing their favorite teams’ games. Much of the savings came in the form of cutting cable and switching to online streaming services like MLB.TV and NHL.TV -- both operated by BAMTech.
Well, Disney is now the majority owner of BAMTech. So instead of enticing cable-cutting sports fans to re-enter the cable fray, ESPN will rely upon a stand-alone streaming service it intends to launch early in 2018.
The move to streaming is a big one for the “worldwide leader in sports,” as ESPN has long depended on cable subscribers paying $9 per month for its four channels -- ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and the SEC Network. But the network has lost 10 million subscribers to cable-cutting since 2010. That’s over $1 billion in lost revenue, which resulted in the termination of around 100 online journalists and television personalities.
ESPN executives hope to maximize revenue by meeting the needs of both cable-subscribing and cable-cutting sports fans, and apparently they know who’s who.
ESPN’s acquisition of majority ownership in BAMTech gives them access to the cable-cutting sports fans it’s lost, who are generally fans of sports not often televised nationally. ESPN will now get 75 percent of revenues from MLB.TV, NHL.TV and MLS Live, the Major League Soccer streaming service.
Also available via the ESPN streaming service will be the typical collegiate games available on the WatchESPN app, but not those televised on cable channels. Grand Slam tennis matches will also be streaming live.
Monday Night Football will still require a cable subscription, though. But if you live in the market of your favorite NFL team, a $25 digital antenna will get you most of their games in HD. Watching the NBA will also require either a cable subscription or NBA League Pass.
So what does this all mean for cable-cutting sports fans? Nothing really. It just means the majority of their money is going to ESPN rather than BAMTech. And while ESPN could roll MLB.TV, NHL.TV and MLS Live into its one streaming service and require customers to pay for all three streaming services, that’s likely a recipe to lose even more subscribers.
The real potential of the streaming services to ESPN is the advertising potential. If you’ve ever watched a game on MLB.TV, NHL.TV or MLS Live, you’re likely familiar with the “Commercial break is in progress” screen. This screen will likely appear less and less given Disney’s fat Rolodex of advertisers.
So not only will ESPN take back some of the 10 million cable-cutting sports fans it’s lost since 2010 via streaming services, it will also profit from filling the plethora of commercial breaks that have gone unfilled since the advent of sports streaming services. It should be a big win for Disney, and shouldn’t cost cable-cutting sports fans a penny more -- unless they see something advertised they just have to have.
If you like this, you might like these GCN talk radio shows: Erskine Overnight, Home Talk, The Josh Tolley Show, The Tom Chenault Show, The Tech Night Owl, The Dr. Katherine Albrecht Show, Free Talk Live, View From The Couch
There are plenty of reasons why Amazon Instant Video is the fastest growing streaming video app, and many of them have nothing to do with streaming video. We’ll get to those. First, though, let’s focus on what makes Amazon better than Netflix and Hulu when it comes to streaming video apps.
If you’re like me, you’ve probably tried all three of the big three streaming video apps. And if you’re like me, you grew tired of the Netflix and Hulu libraries pretty quickly. Netflix might have a vast library, but it’s all crap. And while Hulu boasts about providing all the best television at a discount and with limited commercials, it doesn’t have the movie selection of either Netflix or Amazon Prime. Amazon Prime has the most quality titles from the silver screen and your flatscreen. I always seem to find something to watch with Amazon Prime, and I used to tune into Netflix and Hulu just to turn it off having found nothing to watch. The quality of titles is important to people, and Netflix and Hulu just aren’t providing the content people want.
Remember when Netflix and Hulu were in a price war? Well, that war is over and both sides lost. Price is no longer the driving force when it comes to choosing a streaming video app. If there’s one thing the internet has done well it’s helped consumers make more informed purchasing decisions. Both Netflix and Hulu can be had for as little as $7.99 per month, but my Amazon Prime membership at $8.25 per month ($4.083 per month if you’re a student) is much more valuable than the 26 extra cents I pay. Here's why:
I don’t even get my $8.25-worth of monthly value out of the streaming video. I could go most the year without streaming anything and probably still find value in paying for Amazon Prime. I get free, two-day shipping on any Amazon-fulfilled product I purchase. That’s worth $8.25 almost every time I make a purchase. I also get access to Prime Pantry – a service that not only saves me money on home essentials but trips to the store and time standing in line. I get all my non-refrigerated food, cleaning supplies, toiletries and garbage bags delivered to my door. I just have to remember to order them when stock is getting low.
I watched Spectre on my Hisense 4K UHD TV using Amazon Prime last night and was shocked by how far televisions have come. I didn’t think picture quality could get much better because the human eye can only see so much. I was wrong (because I sit/lay pretty close to my TV), and Amazon Prime seems to be the most committed to providing new, 4K UHD content, despite it only being available in the US, UK and Canada.
I haven’t listened to any of Amazon Prime’s 2,000,000 or so songs or any Amazon playlists, but it’s just another reason why Amazon Prime is more valuable than both Netflix and Hulu. I have purchased vinyl records from Amazon and taken advantage of their digital music downloads, which neither Netflix nor Hulu offer.
Amazon Prime is just better than Netflix and Hulu, so pony up and pay the $99-annual fee or just give it a try for $10 per month. I think you’ll find it’s worth it.