Premium cable network Starz could be the next company to start offering an online TV service that doesn’t require a cable or satellite subscription, according to comments made by Starz CEO Chris Albrecht today.
Over the last month, a handful of cable and broadcast networks have announced plans to offer a standalone streaming video service, including rival premium network HBO and major broadcaster CBS. The move from TV to online is seen as a new standard strategy to stay competitive in a world where viewers increasingly are ditching pay TV in favor of a high-speed Internet connection and reasonably inexpensive services like Netflix.
The reason more standalone services haven’t launched sooner is partially because TV networks currently get paid through providers like Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and DirecTV. And previously there’s been fear on both sides that offering a standalone online TV option would cannibalize those willing to spend an additional $10-$15 per month on top of their cable bill to get access to networks like Starz. There’s also a fear that networks like Starz won’t be able to survive without pay TV distribution partners — meaning, people might not even bother with Starz if they have to sign up independently.
“While you will hear more from us on this over time, I can tell you now that we have the content right [and] the technology platform and infrastructure in place to ensure that the Starz businesses are positioned to capitalize on these new opportunities, both here in the U.S. and abroad,” Albrecht said during an earnings call with investors today.
Albrecht didn’t actually announce that Starz would be offering a standalone online TV service, but it does seem like this is an inevitable future for the company. This is also not the first time we’ve heard rumors that the company would go this route, too.
That said, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings actually predicted the standalone online TV service strategy would soon become the norm earlier this month during an investor presentation:
Well everything we’re seeing is completely consistent with the whole society — not only the U.S. but all over the world — moving toward Internet video and Internet television. We saw Starz a week ago announce that they were doing an Internet video service, now we have HBO. Perhaps there will be other providers in the coming weeks. All the big networks are moving to Internet video. It’s just becoming a very large opportunity.
Via The Verge