HBO announce direct online streaming service
With a plot twist reminiscent of the famous “Red Wedding”, HBO have announced plans to trade in traditional allegiances and take its content directly to viewers over the Internet.
The move was long anticipated by the reigning “Streaming King”, Netflix. It is one thing to plan for contingencies, it is another thing to deal with an enemy at the gates. All of this action is taking place in the shadow of the potential Comcast-Time Warner deal. Will this move affect the regulators view of the $45 billion offer?
Many words online have been devoted to the apparent “death of cable” and the impact of HBO’s decision on Netflix. The big question here is what impact is this likely to have on Telecom Providers or should we now officially switch to Digital Service Providers?
It has been noted that there are sizable obstacles to HBO’s success online, but there is no doubt that this announcement is a pivotal turning point for the online industry. Whether this move signals a steep demise in traditional TV distribution, or long drawn out downfall, the writing is now on the wall. Telecommunication service provider networks will become the distribution infrastructure of choice.
Net Neutrality and online TV
How will this plot twist impact on the discussions and eventual decisions around at Net Neutrality? Telecom networks were not originally designed to replace traditional television distribution networks. Even today’s LTE networks are not capable of replacing cable TV infrastructure.
In particular, the success of online video is due to the fact that viewers can watch the content they want when, where and on what screen they choose. The “When” was initially addressed with the now ancient VCR and its successors. The “Where” or the mobility factor is the real change and challenge for the operators. The ability for operators to support the move to online services may be severely limited if they cannot generate additional revenues to support infrastructure upgrades. With Net Neutrality regulators now hovering directly over the mobile operators, the near future is anything but certain.