America's Got Talent and It's Thriving on OTT TV

By Bob Wallace January 16, 2015

Consider for a moment where subscription OTT services like Netflix, Amazon etc. would be today if it weren’t for their creation of original series programming, along with releasing all episodes of a new season at once. It might seem like the dark ages of online TV.

But instead, the spotlight showed brightly on Netflix’ House of Cards and Amazon’s Transparent, which landed Golden Globe awards earlier this week. And pay-TV has been referred to as “white noise.”

So for who is the future brightest and who can’t fail to evolve?

Parity Plus?

Original series hits such as House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, and an upcoming Woody Allen series announced earlier this week have helped drive the OTT market fast forward. How? By lessening the need for consumers who covet original series to subscribe to premium “movie” channel- turned-original-series-providers such as HBO, Showtime, Starz etc. or buy cable packages above basic.

That helps streaming subscription services immensely as part of the allure of original series is that they’re more captivating than what currently passes for programming on the too many channels you pay for as part of a cable TV package.

TV as White Noise

And now the latest development.

Some have likened TV nowadays to white noise. That could definitely be true if you’re not a big fan of “talent” competition shows, “reality” TV shows and dating and survival shows – all in primetime. And if you’re not into the monster franchises such as CSI, NCIS and Cold Case, why are you paying for cable TV and its increasingly rising prices at all?

The only answer I can think of is live sports, which has been expanding far beyond TV subscription packages to the Web and wireless devices, not to mention evolving OTT services from DISH and likely those promised by Verizon and expected from AT&T.

These could end up augmenting Netflix for those seeking live new channels and some sports. In that event, the combo is even more compelling than its traditional pay TV packages.

Once for All

Reams have been written about it but Netflix’s early February 2013 release of all 13 episodes of House of Cards series at once was a milestone moment in OTT evolution because it gave/gives those addicted to the magnetic original series a binging alternative to the still all too appointment-like weekly installment TV. And often that weekly scheduled episode process is far from smooth with holiday and other weeks being skipped.

Talent Shift

America’s got talent. And it’s shifting toward OTT TV venues (and I’m not talking about unknown, wannabe entertainers on competitive performance shows.)

Perhaps the greatest compliment paid to subscription OTT TV services is that creators – some of the best and brightest minds in programming – view “regular” TV as far less worthy of their creations than Web-based subscription services. They are coming around to instead embracing Netflix, Amazon and other similar services as the best venue for showcasing and distributing their award-worthy programming.

Comedians and talk show hosts have also been moving their programs to OTT TV services or creating new ones for showcasing on Web TV services. The beat goes on. This week’s award show recognized original series talent on TV yet again.

Technology Leadership

Remember that (as part of its programming strategy); Netflix and Amazon were essentially the first movers when it came to shooting original series and snagging movies in 4K Ultra HD format. It offers four times the resolution of 1080p HD and is starting took less and less like a faraway future for TV as others lengthen the line.

UHD is great for movies and live sports on monitors of about 50 inches and larger, which consumers who are original series followers, movie aficionados and/or sports fans are likely to embrace.

Cable TV Retention

To be honest, what are keeping consumers tied to cable TV type services are live sports and focused channels such as the History Channel, Comedy Central, FX and A&E, along with a few others.

And with HBO planning to offer a standalone OTT services this year (a move that others are considering now as well), that weakens the case, programming and business-wise for traditional cable TV packages.

It has been written the many consumers are augmenting cable TV with a Netflix subscription, which is true, but with the rapid evolution of OTT services, that practice could diminish, especially when more live sports bring their games to the Web.

Hope and Change

Offerings that enable viewers to watch cable TV and OTT services through a DVR show promise and aside of cutting prices (don’t hold your breath) the best hope for pay-TV operators looking to retain subscribers while the price gap between OTT services and pay TV packages with their countless fees, grows wider seemingly every quarter.

And to think all the “pundits” said the sky was falling for Netflix when it upped the price of its service by a few dollars a month…

It’s time for fast-forward thinking (and action) on the part of pay-TV providers. And though the “line” between cable TV and OTT TV services continues to blur when it comes to what they offer, a continuing flow of Web TV services is providing consumers with a fast-growing menu of cheaper alternatives.

Add in programming that rivals or exceeds cable TV, flexibility in viewing, and implementation of TV tech advancements such as UHD and there’s less reason to put up with white noise TV… Unless you like it.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

Founder, Fast Forward Thinking LLC

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