Consumers are shaking up how they consume content. They want to view it at times and in places that are convenient for them. They want to view it on the device of their choosing.
And they are finally poised to have the abundance of choices in content AND consumption that they’ve been denied for so long by the bundling and pricing practices of incumbent video providers.
Network providers want to keep their chokehold on consumer video navigation devices – the set-top-boxes you use to watch TV – and keep limiting your viewing options.
Ninety-nine percent of customers rent their set-top box directly from their cable provider. Leasing the set-top box that their provider chooses for them costs the average family about $231 per year. The big cable companies make about $19.5 billion every year just on these rental fees. These leases go on for multi-year, even perpetual terms.
Consumers and market watchers frequently complain that the cable-provided boxes include outdated technology, their operators are slow to update features, and consumers often experience difficulties with installation even by the cable operators’ own technicians. Most consumers don’t know that they could purchase a compatible, often technically superior device for less than the $231 they spend every year leasing the cable provider’s box.
What’s the bottom line?
You should have a choice for how you access pay-TV content without having to sacrifice access to your favorite programming.
Congress recently mandated that the FCC create a working group of experts and stakeholders from a wide range of perspectives with the goal of creating new rules that will let consumers use the devices of their choice. It is supposed to encourage competition and innovation in consumer navigation devices going forward. And it’s your key to watching TV your way.
Network operators will not release their grip on consumers without a major battle. So consumers and innovators must work together to ensure that access there is access to direct-to-consumer online streaming services and alternatives to traditional pay-TV content on the device they want – not just the one provided by their cable company.
The ball is in the FCC’s court now. Tell the FCC to stand with consumers and assure a competitive market for set-top so consumers can have greater access to content.