If the fuss over Aereo told us anything, it’s that Americans are fed up with cable companies and their services. Increasingly, we're looking for ways to get traditional programming on the web—whether it's through a tablet, laptop, smart TV, or even a phone.
HBO has felt the most pressure to offer its streaming service, HBO Go, as a standalone package. But don’t expect to get Game of Thrones and True Detective without a traditional HBO subscription any time soon. For the network, the reward just doesn’t outweigh the risk.
In the meantime, the best hope for cord-cutters dreaming of live, non-network TV lies with DISH Network, which is planning to launch a web-based TV platform of its own later this year. Unlike Netflix, Hulu, or HBO Go, DISH’s service will stream both live and on-demand programming from partner networks. And unlike Aereo, DISH will broadcast those stations legally.
The satellite TV provider is currently in the process of signing right-to-stream deals with major network holding companies. Earlier this year, it reached an agreement with Disney, granting DISH the right to stream content from ABC, ESPN, the Disney Channel, and others.
Just this week, DISH struck a deal with A&E Networks that will hand over live and VOD streaming rights for A&E, Lifetime, and History, among others. Fans of Duck Dynasty, Storage Wars, and Ancient Aliens, rejoice! Soon you'll have the option to get your fix via the web, without a satellite dish or cable box.
But DISH still has a long way to go before its package will be attractive to average customers, who are used to near-infinite variety. The addition of ESPN and ABC is huge for cord-cutters who miss live sports, but the absence of Viacom channels (including Comedy Central, MTV, and Spike), as well as Discovery properties (like Animal Planet, TLC, and Discovery) is pretty glaring.
Other MIA networks include premium channels like Showtime, Starz, and HBO. And you shouldn't expect to see NBC on DISH’s streaming service any time soon—not as long as NBC Universal is owned by rival Comcast. CBS? Also unlikely.
Clearly, DISH has its work cut out, but it's exciting that at least one major player is looking forward instead of back. Traditional cable subscriptions are on their way out. It’s inevitable. Consumers want it. Networks want it. DISH wants it. But cable companies don’t—and, ultimately, it comes down to them.
Hero image: A+E Networks