The Ultimate Television Service

Blakc and white picture of 1958 family gathered around the television.Hulu announced today that it will bring live network channels to its service sometime in 2017. We didn’t get details but the Wall Street Journal says its sources say it would include Disney programming like ABC and ESPN, Fox networks and possibly NBCUniversal and more for about $40.

Whether that price point remains or not it brings up two questions.

1. Do I want to deal with yet another service offering to decide on?

2. Are we headed back to the bundle?

For years lots of folks have called for a la cart TV options letting them pick just the channels they want But now that we’re getting choices online it’s starting to look like a hassle to some.

DTNS Analyst robertmeta says, “I used to think it was what I wanted, but now I am too busy and I don’t even want to have to make the decision — I just want to throw money at the problem without lock-in.”

So what DO we want? Wednesday’s episode of DTNS will talk about that with perspectives from Scott Johnson, Brian Brushwood, and myself.

But here’s the tl;dr version of what I want.

1. One independent platform that aggregates my services. This one shouldn’t get anything out of picking winners or losers just an agnostic presentation of what’s available. Best bet for this is the hardware makers like Roku or Apple TV.

2. All content available from subscription and purchase. Don’t make me think about when something is coming to a service or whether I should buy it now or wait. Just put it on a service or sell it, or preferably both. If I don’t want to tie up with the service I’ll just buy or rent it.

3. Subscription management. Again probably an independent service but this could be a third-party app. Something that is able to alert me when I haven’t been using a subscription I’ve been paying for or even have a setting that lets it cancel service if I don’t use it AND subscribe to services based on what I want to watch. A calculator that tells me whether its best to subscribe buy or rent would be a good feature there too.

4. Platform agnostic services. No matter what service I use I want its product to work on whatever device I have. That means no ecosystems that limit to you to one manufacturer’s product. I’m looking at you Apple. Although Amazon seems to be leaning more that way these days too. And no “this show is unavailable on mobile.” Work out the deals. Because that kind of thing is a deal killer for me.

Granted I understand the legitimate business obstacles to making this happen. But I also understand that with the right consumer pressure and vision from content makers it’s all possible both technically and economically.

What does your ultimate TV service look like? Let us know!

6 thoughts on “The Ultimate Television Service”

  1. Personally, I do not care for the one-episode / week model. I vastly prefer the Netflix model of releasing an entire season all at once, commercial-free. I can then decide to binge-watch if I want, or spread it out over a time of my choosing.

    Since I’m designing this mythical TV service, I’d also keep the entire back catalog in perpetuity. That way I could say, “Hey, I’d like to watch that show from the 70’s about the futuristic RV. ‘Ark 2’ I think it was called.” And then actually be able to watch it in all of its crazy chimpanzee and jet pack glory. (click to watch that show and the dust is shaken off a tape-backup that starts spinning in a seemingly abandoned warehouse somewhere)

    And of course it would be platform agnostic, alert me when new seasons of my shows drop, and make suggestions based upon the shows I watch. It should all be wrapped up in a pretty monthly fee bow. I have no desire to “buy” or “rent” a show.

    So just like Netflix, but without expiring access to shows.

  2. I’d like to see an Apple all-you-can view subscription service on top of Apple’s current iTunes TV shows service. Essentially, you’d be able to stream anything in their TV catalog—no downloads, no offline viewing. I wouldn’t expect their windows to change, so shows wouldn’t appear until the next day, but once they’re there, you have access to the entire catalog, just like with their paid TV purchases—all episodes of all seasons.

  3. I basically agree with the other above commenters, and very silmiar to how Netflix does things now – a subscription service to access everything, nothing expires. There will be a good search to help me find specific shows I want to watch with a suggestion feature for things I might like. And I want notifications for when specific shows are live, like sports or important shows that others are going to watch live too.

    I don’t care for channels or guides. I’m not one that just puts something on and not care what’s on. Just give me what I want, when I want it, on whatever device I want. Hey, wait….

  4. The ultimate TV model for me already exists.
    You are very familiar with it.
    It’s called podcasting – just allow people to subscribe to the shows they want to watch, and when it’s available, they can download and watch it whenever, wherever, on whatever darn device they want.

  5. The ultimate TV model will probably never happen. SlingTV is almost there conceptually, but not quite.

    I’d like to see user-defined channel packs. Maybe a base pack that includes 10 channels — local network stations with the rest being channels selected by the subscriber. Additional user-defined 5-packs that can be added on to the base pack. Other than that, individual premium channels like HBO/Showtime/etc that can also be added individually.

  6. I just want my xfinity comcast to allow me to unsubscribe on-line without argument to foxsportsmidwest during SLCardinals off season and cut my monthly bill by $50. The only other sports I want to keep year round are Big 10 college sports. Otherwise the xfinity digital starter pkg works fine for me.

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