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Cable Technology Feature Article

January 14, 2013

Online Streaming Continues to Make Cable TV Stronger

By Carlos Olivera, TMCnet Content Producer

With online video streaming continuing to grow, services like Hulu (News - Alert) and Netflix continue to make cable TV stronger. Now that probably doesn’t make a lot of sense, but once you dig deeper you will see why.

Online streaming has the potential to be greater than cable TV and become the go-to system for any and all content. Big media companies aren’t willing to take them to the next level because doing so would mean the end of cable model that makes them rich right now.

Cable companies make money because they charge big bucks for their packages, but users don’t usually watch all of the content that is provided to them. They will generally only watch what they want to watch but must pay for the entire package. With sports being as popular as they are, cable companies are able to provide sports-specific packages for a greater price because consumers will always pay more for what they really want.

So, with cable companies able to offer deals such as these, how do online streaming services come into play? When Netflix became an outlet for Mad Men, it established itself as a driver of ratings for cable. Then, Netflix signed a deal with Disney as it was looking for new distribution avenues for content. That’s exactly what online streaming services are offering right now – an outlet for viewers to watch these shows on their own time. For the networks, in an ideal world, viewers would only turn to their websites to watch these shows online, but they also have to go along with consumer demand. Netflix serves more than 23 million subscribers, so it’s better if those users are watching shows through that service than not at all. Having the option to catch up on episodes online can lead to watching the shows primetime.

One of the other reasons online streaming makes cable stronger because of its lack of original content. Hulu Plus is currently in the works to provide its customers with 10 all original shows ranging from sports and news to film reviews. Netflix is currently working on getting its second original show, House of Cards, out to its customers. Its first original show, Lilyhammer, is set to roll out its second season in 2014. Television has no rival when it comes to new and original content with cable stations rolling out new shows almost every season.

Hulu and Netflix essentially offer the same service, television and movie streaming, but with big differences. Netflix offers a much larger archive than Hulu does, but Hulu Plus’ content arrives much faster with shows typically appearing on the website the day after it airs on television.

Both streaming services have done an excellent job at providing their content to users from virtually any device connected to the Internet now-a-days. With just a username and password, customers can log in and begin instantly watching from any gaming consoles like Sony’s Playstation3 or Microsoft’s (News - Alert) Xbox 360 and even Nintendo’s Wii U. Users can even stream from smart phones and tablets, as well as newer model TVs and Blu-ray players.

Netflix and Hulu Plus both offer its services for just $7.99 a month, but they are not all that similar. Hulu Plus offers all of its content for fewer than $8 a month, but Hulu has a ton of content that is available for free to users. Users don’t need even need to sign up to enjoy Hulu’s free shows, a service not offered by Netflix.

Even though Netflix charges the same price, users aren’t getting full access to all of the services content. Netflix offers two different programs, the Internet streaming service, and the DVD’s by mail service. The monthly fee only covers one of the services, which means there is another half of content users will not have access to depending on which service they decide on.

That being said, Netflix’s archive is still much larger than Hulu Plus, and doesn’t make users sit through ads and commercials, something Hulu Plus still hasn’t gotten rid of. For now, the majority of users are turning to online streaming for cable TV shows and increasing the audience for these programs.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO Miami 2013, Jan 29- Feb. 1 in Miami, Florida. Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert) (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.

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