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Live streaming TV is going to destroy cable, not save it

Cord-cutting best streaming service

Streaming TV has had a stellar year. DirecTV Now, AT&T’s cord-cutting cable alternative, has signed up a million people thanks to some aggressive promotions, and a raft of new services have launched. Anyone looking for TV sans cable can choose from Fubo, YouTube TV, Hulu Live TV, PS Vue, DirecTV Now, and Sling, with healthy competition driving down prices.

But one new study suggests that while live streaming is great for people who want an alternative to cable, it’s not going to be a like-for-like replacement. On-demand content is still way more popular than live TV, and that’s going to be a problem for cable companies and content owners alike.

A study by Market Strategies International interviewed over 3,000 adults nationwide about their streaming habits. The conclusion will make for sad reading if you’re a cable exec: although people are cancelling traditional cable packages at speed, the current live-streaming options are “not in high demand as it is currently offered.” With the exception of live sports and news, people don’t really want to tune in at a specific time every week; they’d rather just watch when convenient.

TV providers are failing to recognize that the habits and needs of the viewer have dramatically changed, and the old rules of television no longer apply,” said Greg Mishkin, vice president of research and consulting at Market Strategies. “TV providers must evaluate and revise the business model to fit the needs of the consumer, because if they don’t they are setting themselves up to fail.”

Reading between the lines, what the report is suggesting is that most content is best viewed through a service like Netflix, rather than live-streaming. That will favor big content owners like Disney — which is reportedly setting up its own streaming service — at the expense of cable companies, which have traditionally been the middle-man that delivers content.