Years and Years (of Pay TV Industry Predictions)

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by NashGuy, Jul 14, 2019.

  1. Jul 18, 2019 #41 of 283
    NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    1Q 2023: HBO Max loses theatrical film sources as decade-long contracts lapse

    HBO had long been home to the biggest selection of major Hollywood films that had premiered in theaters within the past year. But, like everything else, theatrical movies must eventually shift to the direct-to-consumer model too when it comes to their initial pay TV windows. All theatrical films released on or after Jan. 1, 2023 from Disney's 20th Century Fox and related studios will go exclusively to Disney’s own Hulu and/or Disney+ SVODs rather than HBO, where they had gone since the late 20th century. (The Fox movie studios, of course, have been a division of Disney since 2018.) Likewise, all new theatrical films from Universal will go exclusively to Comcast/NBCUniversal’s own NBCU SVOD rather than HBO. And finally, HBO also loses access to theatrical films from Summit Entertainment, a division of Lionsgate, due to the simultaneous lapse of that contract on Dec. 31, 2022. CBS, owner of Lionsgate, shuts down the Summit label at this time.

    1Q 2023: Major league sports get serious about OTT direct-to-consumer

    MLB.TV had launched several years earlier as a direct-to-consumer OTT subscription service that let Major League Baseball fans buy season passes to stream their favorite team's games all season long -- so long as that team was based hundreds of miles away, in a distant TV market. The far more lucrative broadcast and streaming rights for in-market baseball games were still held by various third parties, mainly regional sports networks.

    But that begins to change with the advent of the 2023 MLB season. The league and certain individual teams have renegotiated deals with the RSNs and others to allow those specific teams to sell full-season subscriptions to their in-market fans via the MLB.TV streaming service. The relevant RSNs and/or other television and streaming outlets (e.g. Fox, Turner Sports, ESPN, etc.) continue to hold non-exclusive rights to all the games as well. MLB says the move is an experiment but, if all goes well, the arrangement could eventually expand to every team in the league. MLB.TV continues to a offer free game for viewing every day, including the occasional local game, in order to encourage sampling and new subscriptions.

    Industry observers say the development is a harbinger of the same trend that has already largely transformed the rest of the video entertainment industry: content producers (in this case, the MLB) pulling their content back to their own direct-to-consumer streaming outlet. Will all pro sports games, including the NBA, NHL, MLS and possibly even the NFL, eventually be offered this way?

    1Q 2024: DISH buys remainder of DirecTV

    Per the terms of their deal struck over two years earlier, DISH buys out the remaining 51% of DirecTV from AT&T, giving it complete ownership and total control of the business, its satellite fleet, and all other commercial assets. The move also removes DISH’s only direct competitor, a necessary development for DISH’s continued survival.

    During the preceding two years, DISH had standardized on using their own Hopper line of DVRs for customers of either brand service, which proved to be a popular move with DirecTV customers. They had also installed rooftop dishes pointed at the DirecTV fleet of satellites whenever possible, as that fleet offered greater bandwidth and had a longer expected usable lifespan than DISH’s own aging fleet.They had also revised DISH’s channel packages (but not pricing) to closely resemble Sling TV’s, but with local channels relegated to an optional Locals Pack on DISH with the price differing depending on the subscriber’s address. As with Sling TV, DISH offered customers the option of saving money on local channels by integrating free OTA signals into their DISH DVRs.

    Both DISH and DirecTV had seen steep drops in subscribers in the 2020s, with satellite TV now used almost exclusively by rural, older and/or poorer Americans without home broadband service, as well as a decent number of commercial establishments such as sports bars, restaurants and motels. The total number of residential subscribers for both satellite TV services totals only 12 million at this point.

    All subscribers on the DirecTV-branded service are immediately migrated to the DISH-branded service and assigned the channel package that most closely approximates their previous line-up. Having the entire customer base on the same set of packages will help DISH negotiate better carriage rates with the cable networks and local station owners going forward. AT&T will continue to provide HBO Max and their basic cable networks at discounted wholesale rates to DISH through 2030, or the suspension of DISH services, whichever comes first.

    2Q 2024: NBCU sells out of Hulu and removes next-day access to their shows

    Per the terms of the deal they struck five years earlier, NBCU sells its 1/3 stake in Hulu to Disney, giving them full ownership. At the same time, NBC also removes next-day access to their primetime shows from Hulu, making that an exclusive feature of their own NBCU SVOD. They had already slowly taken a few of their past series, such as 30 Rock, away from Hulu (and other SVODs) in order to make them exclusive to their own service. There would be even more of that with regard to Hulu going forward.The with-ad and ad-free prices of the NBCU SVOD was lowered to slightly undercut the corresponding prices of Hulu’s basic service in an effort to better compete for dollars among non-cable-bundle subscribers. And, of course, NBCU’s SVOD had benefitted greatly from being included as a part of every X1 TV plan sold by Comcast, Charter, Cox and other broadband operators to their customers.
     
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  2. Jul 18, 2019 #42 of 283
    NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    OK, will post the last bit of predictions, taking us through the end of 2024, tomorrow.
     
  3. Jul 18, 2019 #43 of 283
    Bigg

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    True, there may not be that many.

    The problem is that without D*, their OTT offerings are basically dead, and their margins will disappear due to higher content costs. Even as D* shrinks to 15M and 10M subs, their OTT offers will likely still be quite a bit smaller, so D* has to carry the weight in programming negotiations.

    Your 500k number is simply wrong, as that's ATM-based DSL. Like I said, IPBB tiers range from 0.8mbps to 500mbps. They could offer OTT video to 18mbps and even 12mbps customers, but below 25mbps they have the same problem U-Verse has had all along of the number of simultaneous HD streams. A lot of households will want all the bandwidth they can get for internet and OTT video, so they'll want linear to continue to be delivered via D*. Other households will have 6mbps, 3mbps, or 1.5mbps DSL speeds, so they won't be able to do OTT video at all.

    5G will largely be available for home internet. If the sites are spaced close enough to offer decent 5G coverage, then they will have plenty of 4G LTE or sub-6 5G capacity for mobile use through density. That being said, mmWave 5G coverage is going to be very spotty, and I doubt it will ever cover a large proportion of cable subscribers- it will just be a huge PITA for cable operators, as the areas dense enough to warrant mmWave 5G are also very profitable to service with HFC, due to that same density.

    It's around 25% faster than 4G LTE on those frequencies. There is no way that sort of system has the bandwidth to deliver OTT linear TV services at scale. With rural households using LTE as their home internet, plus mobile users in the area, there just isn't enough bandwidth. DBS is a key part of that market if AT&T doesn't want to actually wire it with fiber.

    I agree in the sense that it won't be competitive with cable or fiber, but I think it may be competitive with sub-6 fixed wireless, although I could be wrong there, and it could only be competitive with geosynchronous satellite, which is already a tiny niche for where there is no fixed broadband and no decent LTE service.

    You have a point about generational differences in TV viewing, but I'd put the tipping point a lot earlier than 1980.
     
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  4. Jul 18, 2019 #44 of 283
    wizwor

    wizwor Active Member

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    Maybe, but I switched because Netflix had very little I was interested in and Prime carried a lot of 'classic' HBO content. And was less expensive. The other stuff is nice, but I would not pay for free shipping -- it's not that hard to plan shopping so that shipping is free anyway. Spin all you want, but Netflix just officially reported what I said and the shareholders are running for the hills.
    I know a lot of antenna owners and stop to talk to people in front of a home with an antenna on the roof. Almost none of them have a DVR. My oldest sister and in-laws each used an antenna without a DVR until I gave them one. On my street, three of eleven homes have antennas. Of these only mine has a DVR. Despite the fact that I own, at this time, nine DVRs, I rarely watch recorded tv. With 40 broadcast channels, there is almost always something 'good enough' to prevent me from looking for something on the DVR.
     
  5. Jul 18, 2019 #45 of 283
    NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    I think AT&T's goal is that by the time that they part ways with the DTV subscriber base, their AT&T TV subscriber base will be large enough to sustain them in negotiating decent rates from the other content owners.

    Beyond that, I think your mind is fixated on this concept of negotiating favorable carriage rates that comes out of the way that things have looked in the past. Understand that AT&T is a major content owner themselves. It's a different game for them than it is for, say, Charter. We're moving to a situation pretty soon where all the channels on the cable dial will be owned by a handful of companies. They'll all own assets that the others need if they want to offer a full bundle: Disney, Comcast, AT&T, and CBS/Viacom will be the big boys at the table. Fox, Sinclair and Discovery (if it doesn't get snatched up by CBS or another major) will be junior players, along with a few major local broadcast groups like Nexstar. They'll all be sitting around the same table, all of them holding cards that the others need should they wish to offer a full deck of channels to their cable package subscribers.

    And that's it, really. AMC Networks, A+E Networks, and Crown Media (Hallmark) are just too small to survive independently long-term. Beyond those, what else is there?

    Uverse is managed IPTV. The linear channels on AT&T TV can, and it looks like will be, offered via multicast (like Uverse TV) on at least some segments of the AT&T network but there's no reason that that must be the case everywhere on the network. For a lot of viewers (including everyone NOT on the AT&T network), everything will be unicast. And of course all cloud DVR and VOD will be unicast for everyone, regardless. In more bandwidth-constrained neighborhoods, they might deliver AT&T TV purely via OTT unicast streams, at least at first, while moving to rapidly shut down Uverse TV in those areas, freeing up that bandwidth. And remember that with AT&T TV, all the recording is done in the cloud. Streams are sent only when actual viewing happens, which probably helps a bit in terms of smoothing out the bandwidth used.

    As for those households at 6 Mpbs or lower, I just don't think they constitute a very big percentage of AT&T's home internet customer base. No one in 2019 *chooses* that level of service unless it's the only option available. For those folks, sure, AT&T will be happy to keep them on DTV satellite, at least until they maybe roll out some kind of fixed wireless 5G there. (That will probably be the only way that AT&T ever upgrades those slow DSL addresses at this point. I don't think they're going to upgrade many more of them to fiber and I think they're completely done with FTTN deployment.)


    We'll see. T-Mobile thinks you're wrong. I know that (for some strange reason) you have this illogical emotional attachment to DBS. The 2020s will be sad for you and the satellite grandpas over at DBSTalk.
     
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  6. Jul 18, 2019 #46 of 283
    Bigg

    Bigg Cord Cutter

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    They've got a LONG way to go to that point, and I'm not sure they'll ever make their streaming service as large as DirecTV is today. DirecTV has a physical reach that is, quite literally, unparalleled except by DISH, and is a much less competitive market.

    That logic works great for getting them good rates on NBCU content, since Comcast needs TW content. But it does diddly squat for all the rest of the content providers, who are only in the content business, and are going to play hardball with everyone.

    Multicast doesn't help when a household is watching four different TV channels in HD at the same time. DirecTV can do that without using a single bit of that house's 6mbps DSL connection. Meanwhile, with AT&T TV, they'd be lucky to keep two streams going if no one is doing anything else online.

    That's just not how U-Verse works. Each customer has their own dedicated connection to the VRAD. As soon as they turn off their U-Verse box, that bandwidth is available for whatever else if their tier is that close to where they are provisioned. That's why on some packages and provisioning combinations, the internet slows down when multiple users are watching TV. So no bandwidth is "freed up" by getting rid of U-Verse.

    That could help or hurt compared to U-Verse, depending on how it is used.

    Sure, they may well upgrade them to FWI. In which case they still need DirecTV to bundle a video offering.

    T-Mobile is going to have to densify the crap out of their network and deploy all their spectrum if they think that they can deliver a full blown TV service over fix sub-6 5G. As it stands today, in rural areas, it often barely works for mobile use with relatively few users, forget about fixed wireless. U-Verse is sort of a joke for putting TV over phone lines, but doing TV over a wireless network is at least equally as insane.

    I have no particular emotional attachment to DBS, it's just the fact of the matter that it has a place and a role, and will continue to do so for decades to come, or at least as long as there is linear TV content to broadcast. Even in my town, which has gigabit service from Cox everywhere, and the decrepit remains of the 30 or so VRAD/xbox combos that AT&T left behind for Frontier to ruin, people are switching to DirecTV because Cox is so bad in some ways, and Frontier is so bad in others.

    Cord cutting is here, and it's the way things are going, but as long as there are at least a few linear channels, there will be DBS, and I predict there will be at least a few linear channels for a very, very long time.
     
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  7. Jul 18, 2019 #47 of 283
    Bigg

    Bigg Cord Cutter

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    Also, they are doing FWI outside of their ILEC footprint to cash in on that sweet, sweet gubmint money to do almost nothing (basically install a second set of equipment on an existing tower with existing backhaul). Unless they want to start wiring the whole country with fiber, they are going to need DirecTV for that too.
     
  8. Jul 19, 2019 #48 of 283
    Adam C.

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  9. Jul 19, 2019 #49 of 283
    NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    You seem to miss the point that the entire cable channel bundle is going downhill anyway. Subscriber numbers will decrease across all the MVPDs.

    Wrong. Disney has Hulu with Live TV. And can't you imagine -- as I predicted on this thread -- that after CBS acquires Viacom (and, after that, probably other entities) that they'll fold their cable channels (and perhaps even the free Pluto TV channels) and the related on-demand content into CBS All Access? At which point, why wouldn't they get into the MVPD game too in order to give customers the option of making their app as close as possible to a "one-stop shop," just like Hulu with Live TV, and HBO Max (which AT&T has already stated will allow live cable bundle add-ins)?

    I wrote up so many detailed predictions in this thread that, I admit, it's probably easy for readers to miss the forest for the trees. But perhaps the biggest trend I predict is that virtually ALL MVPDs who don't OWN content (except DISH) -- so Charter, Verizon, Cox, etc. -- will get out of the business of constructing and operating their own cable TV services. Meanwhile, all the MAJOR content owners except Netflix -- so AT&T, Comcast, and CBS/Viacom, as well as Amazon and Google/YouTube -- will be in the business of running virtual OTT nationwide MVPDs.

    You're quibbling over stuff that just doesn't matter. You love to get into technical minutiae but you're missing the big picture, which is that, yes, DirecTV satellite service will live on for several more years (as I spelled out above) but AT&T will only aim to sell it to households with no home internet service or such low speeds that the residents find streaming video to be a poor experience. Will AT&T have an official policy that says "We only sell AT&T TV to our internet customers with a download speed of at least X Mbps"? Yeah, maybe. What is X? I don't know. And frankly, it doesn't really matter. I think you're way more concerned about the network quality experience of AT&T DSL customers than AT&T is.

    Bandwidth is certainly free up on the other side of the VRAD if Uverse and all its multicast streams are eliminated. And it's also true that AT&T provisions a maximum internet speed for their Uverse customers that is lower than it would be if Uverse TV didn't exist because they don't want to run into situations where multiple simultaneous Uverse TV viewers in the house results in slower internet speeds. So eliminating Uverse TV entirely in those neighborhoods should allow AT&T to advertise and set slightly high max internet speeds.


    I can already tell that you're going to need some cheering up when DirecTV satellite gets sold off or shut down. "What a stupid move by AT&T!" you'll say. "Now they have no way to bundle video to those folks out in the country! They're leaving it all to DISH!"


    So I assume when you say it "barely works" that you're testing that on a modern phone with support for LTE bands 66 and 71, right? Because that's the long-range 600/700 MHz spectrum that T-Mobile bought a crap-ton of and has been busy converting over from UHF TV to cellular across the nation. They're not done yet either. And it's the same spectrum on which they'll deploy long-range 5G.

    As for putting TV over phone lines being "insane," do you know anyone under age 30? Do you realize how much video consumption -- right now, today -- happens on smartphones? What ABC, NBC and CBS were to my generation growing up, YouTube is to kids today. You have a very 20th-century living-room-TV-centric understanding of video consumption. The cellular network providers, who are busy rolling out 5G, know that they're going to be carrying LOTS of video on their wireless networks. That can be content that they sell or it can be content that other companies sell. If I'm a wireless provider, I'd rather it be stuff that I sell so that I can get a cut of the revenue.

    I agree, although the role of both DBS and linear channels (especially the former) will diminish as the 2020s roll on.
     
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  10. Jul 19, 2019 #50 of 283
    NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    Please see the very first prediction I made to start off this thread. I honestly hadn't heard any of the details I posted, just made them up based on what I thought would be logical. And, sure enough, they're charging the regular price for YouTube TV after the first month free. (Normally YTTV only gives away a free initial one-week trial.) Only thing I *maybe* missed was the part about Verizon offering "enhanced technical support" for YTTV on their own networks for customers who sign up through them. But we'll see. If they get enough YTTV customers so that it effectively becomes like a first-party TV service, I could imagine them doing that.
     
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  11. Jul 19, 2019 #51 of 283
    Adam C.

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    My post was not meant to be a dig against your prediction. It was more of just an observation about YTTV integrating with Verizon. I just don't understand the connection between these 2 services unless Verizon at some point is going to offer some type of discount for people that "bundle" both services. Otherwise what's the point of Verizon even offering YTTV to begin with.

    On a different note, all of these streaming services are already becoming way too fragmented. I currently have Hulu, Netflix, and Prime Video, in addition to my OTA antenna. It is already hard enough to know what to find on each service. I can't imagine adding any more to the mix. I am admittedly much too lazy to download 10 different apps on my Roku and then try to figure out what shows are available where.
     
  12. Jul 19, 2019 #52 of 283
    NashGuy

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    Oh, and I didn't take it that way! Sorry if I implied otherwise. Thank you for posting it. I hadn't seen that news about Verizon and YTTV yet myself.

    Well, as my long thread of predictions reveals, what we're probably going to see are Verizon and other cable TV operators who don't actually own any major TV channels/content -- so also Charter, Cox, etc. -- just completely get out of the business of operating and selling their own cable TV service in the coming years. Instead, they'll partner with one or more outside services and offer to bundle them in with their own broadband service.

    Now, I agree that for Verizon customers, there's not a lot of benefit to buying YouTube TV through Verizon as opposed to directly from Google. For now, it's just the convenience of unified billing, plus the perk of a full free month to start off (rather than just one week, as Google offers).

    But as I speculate in my prediction "2Q 2020: Verizon markets Google’s Stadia and YouTube Music, doubles down on YouTube TV," we might see Verizon sweeten the deal for bundling YTTV with Verizon's broadband service (both FiOS and 5G Home) by giving customers a free (or discounted) Android TV-powered box/stick/dongle with a remote control that's customized for YTTV. If they're serious about ultimately replacing FiOS TV with YTTV, and I suspect they are, they'll need to make it easy for folks who are used to a more traditional cable box and remote. (We'll see AT&T be a trail-blazer on this front next month when they unveil their own AT&T TV service with their custom Android TV box.)

    Agreed. Roku is going to need to follow Apple's lead in terms of developing a nice, content-forward UI that blends stuff from across all your major apps and gives you a unified watchlist. That's what the TV app on the Apple TV box does. It's great. I use it every day. And like you, I'm someone who subscribes to 2-3 paid SVODs at a time, plus uses free streaming apps and OTA TV. I watch it all through my Apple TV.
     
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  13. Jul 19, 2019 #53 of 283
    Joe3

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    Just a short question, does Apple TV show the free choices of the particular program in your search results?
     
  14. Jul 19, 2019 #54 of 283
    NashGuy

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    If the free app opts into working with the TV app on the Apple TV, yes. Right now, both Tubi TV and Pluto TV do so. And Apple features some of their content as recommended picks on the main Watch Now tab of the TV app too, commingled in with stuff from lots of other paid apps (including Apple's own iTunes rentals and purchases).

    I don't think there's an IMDb TV app from Amazon (yet) for Apple TV, although that free content shows up inside the Prime Video app, although I don't know if it turns up in searches.
     
  15. Jul 19, 2019 #55 of 283
    NashGuy

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    And now for the thrilling (?) conclusion to Years and Years (of Pay TV Industry Predictions):

    3Q 2024: Fox dissolves

    Fox Corp. strikes a deal to sell their diminished Fox broadcast network plus their national sports channels (FS1, FS2, Big Ten Network) to Sinclair/Diamond Sports, who — alongside Disney/ESPN — emerges as one of the nation’s two general sports entertainment powerhouses. (But unlike Disney, Sinclair had also struck gold by exploiting the burgeoning market for sports betting.) Sinclair must sell off a few of their Fox affiliate local stations but not many, given that FCC rules around station ownership had relaxed somewhat due to the rise of streaming and dramatic shifts in video entertainment consumption in the 2020s. Many key members of Fox management stay on under the new ownership.

    Industry observers question the long-term viability of the Fox broadcast network given its long-term ratings slide in the early 2020s. Sinclair states that they intend to maintain 14 hours of primetime programming each week (2 hours per night) on the network but that it will not air any costly scripted/fictional programming, only sports plus cheap-to-produce talk, lifestyle, reality, competition/game, true crime, and news magazine shows, with an emphasis on live content. This content would be further monetized off-network through various AVOD and SVOD streaming platforms. MyNetworkTV is shut down, with Sinclair opting to focus their syndication and channel-branding efforts only on their own local stations across the nation.

    Meanwhile, the Fox News and Fox Business channels are absorbed into the Murdoch family’s News Corp., owner of the Wall Street Journal and the UK’s The Times and The Sun. Fox News retains its iconic brand name but unveils a refreshed logo while retooling its political perspective and primetime line-up to appeal to a younger, more diverse center-right audience in the post-Trump era. The station is widely distributed as an add-on to every possible OTT subscription platform possible, as well as a standalone OTT service through its own app. Fox Business (which had always been an also-ran next to CNBC) is rebranded as Wall Street Live, a free ad-supported 24/7 streaming/cable business news network operated in conjunction with the WSJ. Access to on-demand and premium clips from Wall Street Live are restricted as perks for WSJ’s digital/print subscribers.

    3Q 2024: HBO Max rebrands as “The Max”

    Now that HBO has ceased to exist as a standalone service for awhile, HBO Max shortens their name to simply The Max, following the nickname that many of its younger viewers had been calling it for years. The HBO, HBO Family, HBO Latino and HBO Cinema linear channels continue to exist inside the app as showcases for the service’s higher-brow original content, plus Warner Bros' big theatrical films. But a new live linear streaming channel, simple called The Max, joins the line-up to showcase the large and growing body of Max Originals, as well as favorite content from the Warner Bros. vault and Warner’s basic cable entertainment channels. The Max linear channel exists exclusively inside The Max app. One of the biggest Max Originals hits so far has been a reboot of the classic 80s film, The Goonies, now in its third season as a series which many fans see as "the new Stranger Things".

    The change in branding from HBO Max to simply The Max made sense as WarnerMedia had gradually relied less and less on the HBO brand, while shifting an increasing percentage of their spending on new content from HBO-branded content to the broader Max Originals brand. Also, more and more original documentaries and docuseries had shifted from the HBO brand to the CNN brand. (Both moves allowed the service to run more ads, since even on the cheaper plan with limited ads, HBO-branded content, theatrical films and kids' shows always remained ad-free, while Max Originals, CNN docs and everything else could contain lucrative targeted ads.) In retrospect, analysts said the rebranding had been telegraphed from the very start, when HBO Max introduced their logo in 2019 featuring a small white “HBO” and a large colorful “MAX” in its design. From the get-go, the service was ultimately intended to be less about HBO and more about The Max.

    4Q 2024: TiVo files for bankruptcy, ATSC 3.0 fizzles

    TiVo Corp. had split into two different publicly-traded companies years earlier: the new TiVo, focused on selling services/platforms to MSOs (and, to a lesser extent, retail users), and Rovi, focused on licensing intellectual property and metadata to media and technology companies, based on the company’s trove of patents. They had hoped to find private buyers for one or both sides of the business before the split but could not, so Rovi was spun-out as a separately traded stock.

    While Rovi continued to be profitable, TiVo had found their entire business model to be untenable as the 2020s progressed. The small-to-midsized MSOs to whom TiVo sold solutions had increasingly chosen to completely stop operating their own unprofitable cable TV services and instead focus on selling and operating their highly profitable broadband networks. If an MSO as large as Charter had decided there wasn’t decent money in running their own cable TV service, how could an operator with only 5% as many customers make it work? All of these smaller MSOs had instead decided to resell one or more national OTT streaming cable TV services, such as YouTube TV, AT&T TV, X1 TV, Sling TV, Hulu with Live TV, Prime Video Live Channels, or CBS All Access with Live TV. TiVo had limped along, serving a handful of MSOs still under contracts struck a few years earlier, but those clients continued to drop off.

    Meanwhile, the company had virtually zero retail customers still paying for service on their TiVo DVRs with CableCARDs, given that HD channels had not been accessible on those devices to the vast majority of Americans for a few years now.

    TiVo did still have a modest number of retail customers using their OTA DVRs but it simply wasn’t enough to sustain them. They had a small slice of a fairly small pie, thanks to OTA DVR competition from Tablo, Amazon, AT&T, DISH and other pay TV operators who followed Sling TV’s lead to sell low-cost network OTA tuners like the AirTV, with local DVR capabilities, to their streaming cable TV subscribers as a way to supplement their own service while keeping retransmission fees in check during negotiations with local broadcast stations.

    TiVo had hoped to take the lead with ATSC 3.0 DVRs but ATSC 3.0 has yet to reach sufficient adoption by broadcasters or viewers for it to supplant ATSC 1.0 and few industry observers expect it ever will. While Sinclair, and to a lesser extent other local station owners, had been enthusiastic supporters of ATSC 3.0 at the dawn of the decade, virtually all of the major media and tech titans saw its rise as inimical to their own interests and therefore they never gave it much, if any, support. The FCC had never voted to make ATSC 3.0 adoption mandatory and no stations that voluntarily chose to broadcast in 3.0 have yet signaled any plans to cease their 1.0 broadcasts immediately at five years after their 3.0 launch, which is the soonest that FCC regulations allow.

    4Q 2024: Where the SVODs stand

    At the end of 2024, Prime Video continues to boast the highest US subscriber count of any SVOD, although that’s mainly due to the fact that it is packaged in with Prime membership primarily used for free shipping. When it comes to actual minutes viewed, Prime Video ranks behind most other leading services.

    After Prime Video, Disney+ ranks second in US subscribers, with Netflix, then Hulu, then HBO Max, then NBCU all following closely behind.

    Showtime, CBS All Access, and Apple TV+ all lag well behind that most popular tier of SVODs in subscriber counts, but all three services appear strong enough to continue operating thanks to their devoted subscriber bases and positive financial results for their owners. As had always been the case, the majority of viewers who pay for access to the main CBS network do so not through CBS All Access but through other distribution platforms, which offer at least CBS and its related news and sports networks.

    Free ad-supported OTT services had also grown to become important parts of the video ecosystem, with many of the SVODs offering a free ad-supported content tier inside their own apps and/or in separate apps. But Google’s YouTube remained far and away the leader, essentially serving as the aggregator of all “long-tail” niche content that had once been somewhat filled by a plethora of cable networks which no longer exist. The TV universe has evolved from “500 channels and nothin' on” to “500 billion streams and something for everyone”.
     
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  16. Jul 19, 2019 #56 of 283
    Bigg

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    Oct 30, 2003
    Hartford-...
    I agree that the cable channel bundle as we know it today is going downhill, but it's going to be a very long time before live pay TV is gone completely. I'm not convinced that it will ever totally disappear, as we still have a robust network of AM radio stations.

    Even if that happened, what about other content providers? AT&T still needs the scale to get good carriage rates with them, and it just gives them that much more leverage over channels owned by those other companies who are running MVPDs (NBCU) or vMVPDs (ABC, and as you suggest CBS/Viacom).

    I agree with all of that except maybe Charter, due to their sheer scale, although they could end up getting out of the business as well. However, none of that suggests that AT&T will get rid of DirecTV.

    I think the technical minutiae matters a lot here, as the lack of bandwidth for video was a big part of the reason that AT&T bought DirecTV in the first place. Also, I largely skipped over them, but data caps could continue to drive business to DirecTV. A vMVPD is a LOT less competitive when someone has to pay Cox a $50/mo ransom just to use more than 1TB on their cable connection that they're already paying $85/mo for. A LOT of those folks have DirecTV. I can tell when I go from a Comcast town to a Cox town, the number of dishes goes WAY up. It doesn't matter that much whether the cutoff for AT&T TV is 6mbps or 12mbps or 18mbps, there are still plenty of AT&T's own customers who don't have enough bandwidth to get it, but can get DirecTV. There's also commercial customers, and various niches for RVs, boats, etc.

    They might be able to push the 25mbps and 50mbps tiers out slightly farther without U-Verse TV, but they may have already done that, and just let TV make the internet speeds take more of a hit as the total bandwidth has gone up. I think they're about maxed out on what they can offer on the VDSL architecture. There is no upstream bandwidth savings, since the multicast streams only come to the VRAD if a customer on that VRAD is actually using them, and AT&T TV will just replace that. However, it's irrelevant, as the fiber backhaul isn't the limiting factor. They started out with 2gbps, and they can increase that to 10gbps or probably higher if they need to. In fact, if they wanted to, they could feed GPON fiber out of a VRAD, even though it's a crappy architecture, since you don't have the same power backup as you do out of a CO.

    I'd be happy if they sold DirecTV off, since they have really screwed it up, but they're not going to, as it's essential to both their bundling and content negotiations, i.e. the two reasons that they bought it in the first place.

    I haven't personally tested rural T-Mobile, but I've read many reports on how bad it is. Their towers are spaced way too apart, the coverage is like swiss cheese, and in many areas they still have only a single 5x5 deployed. Even if they fully deployed their spectrum, they wouldn't have much capacity, and the coverage holes would mostly still be there.

    I'm under 30- just barely. The fact of the matter is that Americans consume vast amounts of TV, and much of that is in the living room. U-Verse is a joke for cramming TV over phone lines, although it sort of works to a point. I stream video on mobile sometimes, but it's a crappy experience, the screen is tiny, and a nice 65"+ TV is a much better way to consume video content. Regardless, all that really doesn't matter much to rural 5G. n71 5G just doesn't have the capacity to handle a ton of TV viewing and/or streaming, especially not in T-Mobile's swiss cheese configuration that can barely keep up with some mobile usage. Heck, AT&T has a better shot at that, as they have 50x50 or more deployed on more towers in a lot of the areas that T-Mobile still is running on a single 5x5 with swiss cheese coverage.

    DBS is going to diminish, there's no question. DirecTV was at 20M subs, and I don't know where their long term plateau is. It might be 5M subs, it might be 2M, but at some point, there is a niche market for satellite delivery of linear channels as long as linear channels exist, and I suspect that they are going to be around for a very, very long time. The Atlanta airport and sports bars nationwide need something to fill up their thousands of cheap LCD screens.

    However, I think that by some time in the mid-2020's, streaming events may become the main way we consume sports, with the more popular events then simulcast over the linear networks for sports bars, rural customers, etc, with cable news left as the last bastion of live TV, as the 24 hour news cycle naturally lends itself to a live linear channel more than any other type of content.

    On the path to that eventuality, however, poor broadband access, overpriced broadband, and arbitrary and capricious data caps are going to significantly hold back that other inevitable transition to a streaming world, and DirecTV neatly fills all of those needs and use cases.
     
    NashGuy likes this.
  17. Jul 20, 2019 #57 of 283
    chiguy50

    chiguy50 Active Member

    953
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    Nov 9, 2009
    Atlanta, GA
    Thank you so much for the time, effort, and thought that you have devoted to this episodic magnum opus on the future of television. It is gracious of you to share with us your insights (not to mention your prodigious prognosticating skills:D).

    You have raised the stakes for posting on the TCF!:cool:
     
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  18. Jul 20, 2019 #58 of 283
    Joe3

    Joe3 Active Member

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    Dec 12, 2006
    Boston MA
    There is no doubt you thought about this. However, I disagree about what will cause TiVo's end. I believe they will go bankrupt years earlier than your prediction. If TiVo launches the same old mediocrity with it's new Series 7 and try's to pass it off as something new, look for the end of the company to happen soon after. TiVo's resent Facebook tour filled me with dread as the so call lead technologies person had no ideas and no spark. Rather, the IT person the witless guy in the office calls to reboot his computer and not a technology guru with the imagination to reboot a failing company.
     
  19. Jul 20, 2019 #59 of 283
    NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

    2,959
    1,210
    May 2, 2015
    Why thank you, sir. As you know, I like thinking about the future of TV and tech (often during my bike rides and jogs) and so I decided to start typing it out to organize and flesh-out my thoughts. "Why not post it here on TCF?" I thought. Maybe I should start a blog...
     
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  20. Jul 20, 2019 #60 of 283
    ManeJon

    ManeJon Member

    99
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    Apr 14, 2018
    I live in an area where the local cable company (Spectrum) offers only 2 tuner DVR and no whole home viewing. As long as situations such as that exists Tivo will be a favored choice although there may not be enough of those areas to keep the company alive. Also, even though there are efforts to fix this huge parts of the country are still without high speed internet.
    I wonder what % of the populous even know there are alternatives to their standard cable TV and would be able to deal with multiple vendors when there are issues.
    I'm waiting for actual 4K or 8K tv other than a few from a very few vendors.
    Thanks also for the predictions
     
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