2015 might finally be the year when cord cutting lives up to its own hype. For years people have been talking about getting rid of their cable or satellite subscriptions but the numbers told a different story. According to Denver-based ClearVoice Research, cord cutters make up only 2% of the population. For many people, there’s just been too much stuff they would miss without cable. Sports was high on that list and so were pay channels like HBO and Showtime.
But a recent spate of big announcements show that media companies expect cord cutting to become the default viewing preference in the not-too-distant future. Thank (or blame) the Millennials. Most of them aren’t cord cutters, they’re cord nevers. They’re used to consuming all of their entertainment online and don’t care about any stations they may have been missing. As this group becomes the next wave of big earners, media companies want to make sure they’re giving them plenty of options to spend their money on networks but still watch TV online.
Whether cobbling together a bunch of subscriptions will be cheaper than just paying a cable bill remains to be seen. But her are 5 ways you’ll be able to watch TV without a cable subscription in the coming year.
Dish Network’s new Sling offer is the service that’s most likely to get people to cut the cord. For $20 per month (starting some time in the first quarter of 2015), users get
, ESPN 2, TNT, TBS, Food Network, HGTV, Cartoon Network and Disney Channel. The most important part of that lineup is ESPN. One of the main things keeping viewers tethered to their cable subscriptions has been sports. Fans need to watch games on live TV or there’s almost no way to avoid finding out who won and what happened. Sling gives cord cutters a way to keep up with most games without needing a pricey subscription. On the horizon, a $5 extra per month sports package and for parents, a $5 extra per month kids package that includes networks like Disney Jr.
Another big impediment to cutting the cord: HBO. The
-owned networks has a great online app but right now you need to authenticate with a cable or satellite subscription in order to use the app. That should change this year. In October, HBO announced that it is planning to offer a stand-alone online service sometime this year. The service is expected to cost about $15 per month. That’s $6 more per month than it costs to subscribe to Netflix and the high price might keep some people away from the service but it will start to lay the groundwork for a more a la carte world.
The entertainment and electronics company is getting into the over-the-top game with a service that initially will only be available on PlayStation game consoles. Sony has said it will eventually roll out Vue to iPads and other non-Sony devices. With 75 stations, Vue is a pretty robust alternative to traditional cable and unlike some other online-only subscription plans it includes networks like
, NBC and
. Noticeably missing from Sony’s lineup is sports and Disney programming.
Viacom is the latest company to announce a stand alone channel. During a recent investor call Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman said the online only offering will be aimed at mobile phones and might have a different brand name than Nickelodeon. More details are expected at Viacom’s upfront presentation for advertisers next month.
CBS’ streaming service is cheap, just $6 per month. But it’s also pretty limited. Viewers in the top 14 markets can use it to stream live CBS shows but if you live outside of those areas you can only watch archived shows on the service. And CBS online won’t include sports. Jim Lanzone, CEO of CBS Interactive, has said that the service is really geared toward the “super fan.” CBS could be using the service to test the water for more extensive offerings down the line. The company is also considering a stand-alone Showtime channel.