First, there was Sling TV.
Then Sony’s PlayStation Vue.
Then DIRECTV Now.
Then YouTube TV.
And Hulu Live is coming soon.
Oh, and let’s not forget Verizon and Comcast. Also, possibly, coming soon. And there are rumors that Apple, Amazon and some others may join in.
The live streaming business is booming. Booming, at least, in the number of companies entering it, if not in the actual number of customers. While most live streamers won’t reveal actual subscriber numbers, sketchy reports suggest the total number is approximately two million, if that. Just two million, more than two years after the launch of Sling TV.
Which brings me to the point of this article.
There is a growing audience for an alternative to cable and satellite services which often pad their programming packages with arbitrary fees and other inconveniences such as contract termination penalties.
But the number of consumers who have signed up for the live streaming services (cheaper packages; no contracts) is still relatively small and there’s no indication it will grow at a faster rate.
(Vue, for instance, has roughly 400,000 paying subscribers two years after its launch, according to Discovery CEO David Zaslav. Bloomberg reported it had 100,000 a year ago so, if these accounts are correct, it’s only added 300,000 in one year despite an increasingly aggressive marketing campaign by Sony.)
But the number of companies who are trying to tap the, yes, growing, but still small, audience of pay TV streamers is growing at a meteoric rate. When Hulu launches, and if Verizon and Comcast follow suit, that will be eight companies offering live streaming plans to counter the traditional pay TV service.
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Eight companies for an audience that still has to be regarded as a niche one, at best.
It says here that’s there no way the live streaming category will expand rapidly enough (if it ever does) to keep all these companies in the black.
There will be casualties in the live streaming business, and probably sooner than you think.
— Phillip Swann