Netflix-style content streaming is the future of television. The ability to binge-watch new shows the minute they come out is highly addictive, as Netflix fans have shown during marathon sessions of House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Daredevil, etc. Even though the transition to this new way of watching TV will be gradual, it’s also inevitable since it’s been embraced by more and more people aged 30 and under.
Don’t tell this to Comcast, though! DSLReports flags a statement from Amy Banse, managing director of Comcast Ventures, who once again trots out the ancient cable industry trope that cord cutting is just something that’s being over-hyped by the news media.
“I personally believe, and also by looking at our own statistics, that the volume of press around cord cutting doesn’t quite match reality,” Banse said , although she did acknowledge that “the way content is consumed is changing.”
You could write this off as just one executive trying to downplay the competitive threats Netflix and other streaming services pose but Comcast’s own actions over the past several months have shown that it just doesn’t get cord cutting.
For instance, take Comcast’s new Stream package that costs $15 a month and lets you stream all the major broadcast networks and HBO over your computer, tablet, smartphone, etc. But there’s an important catch here: You’ll only be able to stream live TV through this service while you’re connected to your home Wi-Fi network.
This package misses what makes Netflix so great: You can bring it with you so you can watch content while you’re travelling and not just in your house. If you want to watch network TV shows in your house, you can do so for free via a digital antenna and then you can spend your $15 a month on HBO Now, which will let you watch your favorite HBO shows anywhere.
What do cord cutters want from Comcast and other ISPS, then? Basically, we want them to be the best “dumb pipes” they can be. This means having first-rate networks that can deliver online videos from whatever the source at a reasonable price. Both Google Fiber and AT&T’s GigaPower (in some markets, at least) are doing this. But when Comcast unveiled its new 2Gbps service pricing, I was saddened-but-not-shocked to see that it will cost a wallet-destroying $300 per month.
Despite this, I’m not too worried about Comcast inhibiting the growth of cord cutting in the coming years. As the record companies learned last decade when Napster made it easy to download individual tracks from the web instead of paying for full albums, you can’t stop technology once it’s out of the bag. Just as the CD went the way of the dinosaurs, so soon will traditional cable TV packages.