It’s getting a lot easier to say goodbye to your cable or satellite television provider. There’s a growing number of streaming television options these days, and there are more on the way judging by Sony’s (SNE) new PlayStation Vue and several reports indicating that Apple (AAPL) is ready to dive into this space.
Did you sign up for one yet? You’ve been complaining about your ever-increasing cable bills for years, and now that economical streaming options are available, you’re just not jumping on the opportunity. It’s OK. I haven’t either. Let’s go over a few of the reasons that consumers aren’t hopping on the trend.
1. Every Service Has Its Content Gaps
Folks generally hate costly cable bundles, forcing them to pay for a ton of channels that they’re not watching. Streaming TV should be able to solve that, giving consumers the ability to cherry-pick channels. However, the first wave of offerings simply follow the old way of thinking, providing a basket of channels at a flat monthly rate.
If that isn’t bad enough, every single standalone service that has launched so far is missing a few key channels. PlayStation Vue doesn’t carry ESPN. DISH Network’s (DISH) Sling TV lacks access to the major networks. In short, streaming TV is actually complicating things. You will probably wind up subscribing to a couple of different services, eating into the cost-effectiveness of cutting the cord in the first place.
2. There’s No Universal Way to Get Connected
PlayStation Vue is only available through PS3 and PS4 consoles. CBS All Access is not accessible on consoles, set-top boxes or smart TVs. Sling TV can be streamed through most devices, but right now that doesn’t organically include Apple TV.
All of this naturally creates confusion. Consumers are not sure which platforms go with the devices they already own. More important, since limited content on each service makes it likely that video buffs will want more than one service, it complicates matters because the desired services all need to be compatible with the same streaming device.
3. Broadband Connectivity Can Be Spotty and Expensive
Cable customers have experienced occasional outages, and satellite television subscribers know that weather can result in spotty reception. Is your Internet connection any more reliable? It also goes without saying that you will need a lot of bandwidth if you want to stream high-def video without buffering.
Heavy usage of streaming television can also eventually hit your pocketbook. Some Internet providers have been accused of throttling the streams of customers who tend to consume a lot of data, and if networks get slammed, it won’t be a surprise if usage caps and pricing tiers are eventually introduced. In short, having a consistent, fast and economical connection could be a challenge.
4. It’s Not Cheap for Families
A big deal breaker for many of these services is that a subscription is limited to a single device. Sling TV at $20 is a steal, but if you have four TVs in your home, we would be talking about $80 to service the entire family.
Streaming TV platforms will likely eventually offer family plans, but for now it makes it a potentially more expensive option for large families who typically pay a low price, if any price at all, for additional outlets.
5. Hey, We’re Waiting for Apple to Show Us the Way
It’s easy to want to stay on the sidelines until Apple raises the bar, and that could happen as early as September according to The Wall Street Journal. Just as the smartwatch market hasn’t taken off ahead of Apple’s arrival, the world’s most valuable consumer tech company is the ultimate tastemaker.
Waiting for Apple isn’t really necessary. Most of these services are being offered on monthly contracts, making it easy to cancel or switch. However, until Apple tells mainstream consumers why they will want a streaming TV service, the public will likely remain skeptical — and on the fence.