‘A La Carte’ TV Is Slowly Making Inroads

March 15, 2016, 4:09 PM UTC
Photograph by Thomas Trutschel Photothek

Americans hoping to pick and choose the television programming they want may need to wait a bit longer.

In international markets, several studios and television producers are providing a wide range of pay-TV streaming services outside of traditional cable connections, Bloomberg is reporting, citing sources with knowledge of the companies’ plans. Several prominent companies, including Viacom (VIAB) and Walt Disney (DIS), are finding ways to provide their content to customers who aren’t so willing to pay for traditional television services, the report claims.

So-called a la carte television has become a hot topic in the world of entertainment. Companies around the globe are analyzing ways to provide customers with the content they care about without forcing them into cable subscriptions that include a slew of channels they don’t. While in the U.S., such a plan has been slow-going, the Bloomberg report claims it’s making significant inroads in Europe and Latin America, where cable and satellite companies don’t have an iron-like grip on content.

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The idea of providing a la carte television is something that many people might be interested in. Cable and satellite companies provide services that offer easy access to content. However, much of that content is viewed by precious few people. That’s why an increasing number of people around the U.S. are opting to “cut the cord” and back away from traditional television services.

A survey from video-discovery firm DigitalSmiths last summer found that approximately 8% of Americans have already nixed their pay-TV subscriptions in favor of streaming services like HBO Go, a jump from approximately 7% in 2014. That report was followed in September by a study from research firm Magid Associates that found the number of people at least considering cutting the cord was on the rise.

In response, several companies have delivered streaming apps, including HBO, CBS (CBS), and others. It’s also been reported that Apple (AAPL) has been working hard at providing American users the option to stream a few dozen channels that are most popular in a bid to target cable and satellite companies. So far, however, the company has been unable to come to an agreement.

Apple ‘Frustrated’ by TV Streaming Negotiations

Overseas, things appear to be different. According to Bloomberg, Fox has already launched a service, called Fox Play, that lets cable and satellite customers in Latin America watch its programming. Several other media companies are selling monthly services to customers who want access to the programming they care about.

The issue is one of significant concern to cable and satellite companies in the U.S. Traditionally, customers have simply paid their providers for access to programming. Now, they want to watch only certain content, and do so wherever they are. That has contributed to the growing popularity of services like Netflix (NFLX), Hulu, and Amazon’s (AMZN) own streaming platform. It’s also prompted traditional providers to consider offering content in new ways, including offering an entire season of a TV show at once, similar to moves by Netflix and Amazon.

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Still, there are no signs of pay-TV providers in the U.S. losing their control anytime soon. Indeed, many of them have a firm grip on the market and don’t want to dramatically change their businesses. According to Bloomberg’s sources, providers don’t have the same level of control in other markets, giving the content creators opportunities to launch their own services.

It’s unclear what’s next for the pay-TV market in the U.S., but if content providers have their way, an increasing number of streaming services will be made available as more people cut the cord. The onus will then be on those providers to respond.

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