When OTT is mentioned in conversation it’s usually to praise its existence and recent success. Whether its the original programing, low price, or extensive movie and TV libraries, OTT has made quite a first impression among those who have tried it. But is it enough to make consumers cut there cable bill? It definitely can be, but there are a few things that stand to hold it back.
Wallet Share. Consumers initially turned to OTT products like Netflix for one thing — its low cost. And even with the recent surge of OTT products, packages have remained fairly low in cost: Hulu costs $7.99/mo, Amazon $8.25/mo, HBO Go $15/mo, Starz $8.99/mo, Showtime is $10.99/mo, YouTube TV $35/mo, SlingTV $20–40, FuboTV $35/mo. But now the issue is creating a bundle.
A consumer who wants to watch “House of Cards” and “Game of Thrones” would need a subscription to both Netflix ($8.99) and HBO Go ($15). Still, no big deal $8.99 + $15 is only $23.99, but if they wanted to add cable channels like CartoonNetwork, TNT, TBS, Disney, The History Channel, or ESPN then they’re going to need a service like SlingTV’s Orange package which brings that $23.99 to $43.99 and don’t forget to add in the cost of internet, which can cost upwards of $50 for decent service. That brings the total to $94.99. But uh-oh.. its 2019 and Netflix no longer carries Disney content and soon SlingTV might have the same problem and will probably lose EPSN too. Now Disney and ESPN cost a separate fee, bringing the total coast above $100. And soon other services might do the same eventually increasing the cost of a bundle, but not the value. Of course, competition in a free market is always good and typically leads to innovation and lower cost, but it seems the industry will have to go through a slight division first.
Format. With OTT being somewhat of a new platform, most services have a clunky layout. SlingTV’s layout for example makes the user navigate through what seems like an endless list of tabs to get to the desired program. And unfortunately, the sometimes unstable connection of OTT platforms make that process feel like an eternity. And because most remote controls are not designed for OTT platforms, the navigation can become even more of a hassle. Anyone who has tried to search for a movie on Netflix using a Roku controller can attest to that.
Another layout issue is from TV companies lack of reaction to the growth of OTT platforms. With over 100 platforms to choose from (if you include the free ones) no TV has been built with a user friendly way to interact simultaneously with the different platforms. One of the great things about cable and satellite was the guide layout was that it allowed the viewer to hunt, preview, and record programming while viewing another program at the same time. The inability to do this between OTT platforms makes searching for programing tedious and slow, and it likely scares off any Baby Boomer or Gen X user from fully cutting the cord.
Stability. Even with a good bundle and a decent layout, connection stability can always ruin the party. The great thing about cable and satellite is there reliability. No Buffering, rarely a signal lost, and connection isn’t impacted from someone watching TV in the other room. But with OTT streaming all these things must be taken into account. One too many people on the internet can be the difference from seeing the game winning shot of the NBA Finals or a bunch of pixels. For example, Dish’s Sling TV failed for many fans during this year’s NCAA Final Four, forcing the company to issue an apology.
Additionally, a slow connection means more hassle when sifting through content tabs or waiting for a description and thumbnail to load, which ultimately leads to less satisfaction in the product.