Tuesday, February 28, 2017

YouTube TV set to blow up the industry

You're forgiven if you felt the earth move a bit today. YouTube's announcement that it would enter the live online TV space with its YouTube TV offering could be one of the more significant media announcements we've seen in a while.

The online TV service isn't available yet. Google-owned YouTube says it'll come "soon" to the U.S., and is being decidedly mum about other countries. So Canadians are out of scope for now.

Regardless of the fact that you can't get it yet and it won't be available everywhere for a while, YouTube TV represents quite likely the most serious threat to-date to traditional cable and satellite TV. By including most of the big TV networks in the U.S. as well as lots of live sports, YouTube erases another major reason that had been keeping some TV watchers from cutting the chord. This is a seismic shift, and the beginning of the end of conventional TV just got another shove toward the cliff face.

Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily. Consumers get access to their favorite shows and sports events for less. They can interact with content on any device, using a rich set of tools (including an unlimited-storage online DVR), all for the low-low price of $35 U.S./month. It simply reflects the shift in delivery method away from conventional cable and satellite subscriptions and toward IP-based platforms. We watch more TV than ever before, but not necessarily on a big old TV through a coax cable.

I'm sure an announcement of this magnitude will keep conventional cable/satellite distributors awake at night (disclosure: I work for one of these telecoms), but they'll do fine if they continue to expand their offerings - like intelligent, interactive online packages that connect their rich content ecosystems to an increasingly digital/mobile/social audience. Google/YouTube's entry into the space legitimizes it and opens the door to an even more vibrant and innovative marketplace. It's hard to see any downside in that.

Your turn: Have you cut the chord yet? Why/why not?

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