Alternative Cable Option Has Potential to Sink Current Offerings

More and more Americans, particularly young Americans, are canceling their cable subscriptions. For these people, often referred to as “cord cutters,” online services such as Netflix and Hulu Plus have their TV needs covered, at a fraction of the cost. Cable companies often force, or at least strongly push their customers to purchase expensive bundles of Internet, cable and phone services. These bundles often cost upwards of $150 per month. For cord cutters, that price cannot be justified in a world where they can pay $10 a month for Netflix and get hundreds of shows on demand.

However, some are still hesitant to give up on cable. For one thing, it is still difficult to get some sports content anywhere else. Also, not all channels offer their shows on Hulu or Netflix. However, there is a new service that seeks to complement existing online services and enable people to drop cable for good. Sling TV, which is owned by Dish Network, is a new service offering live, streaming TV over the Internet. The number of channels is much more limited than traditional cable, with the core service only offering 17 channels. However, it’s only $20 a month. Some of the channels included are ESPN, AMC, TNT, TBS and CNN. There are also several add-on packages that contribute a handful of extra channels for $5 more a month. The service does not include any local network channels; the intention is for those desiring them to get an antenna and pick them up themselves.

Sling TV supports many platforms, such as Windows and Mac OS X computers, Amazon Fire TV, Roku and iOS and Android phones and tablets. In the future, gaming consoles will be added such as Xbox One, and likely more down the line. However, only one device can be used at a time on a single subscription, which could be seen as a major downside.

While cord cutters are those that once had a cable subscription and later choose to discontinue the service, there is another group that is gaining numbers. “Cord-nevers,” as they are called, are those that never elected to get a cable subscription. Millennials constitute a large portion of this group.

Matt Gilbert, junior, said this of the service, “I think it sounds really good, especially for this upcoming generation who is having a hard time finding work or working minimum wage jobs. $100 a month is not so good for most people right now, but $20 a month is much more affordable and a much better option.”

“I find it interesting, but the channels I watch on Ramapo’s cable aren’t offered,” senior Jon Mangel said. “The basic package seems pretty cool. Maybe for $20 a month it might be worth it, but I get plenty of use out of my Netflix account, which is only $8 a month, so it’s a better deal for me.”

It’s worth noting that this service just launched about a month ago, so it is still in its infancy. If it can find a foothold with its target audience, the service could gain traction and grow, adding more channel options and further growing its market share. Whether or not this will be one more nail in the coffin of cable TV, or a curiosity that comes and goes, remains to be seen.