Right now there are three companies offering cable alternatives via live streaming services. Sling TV, PlayStation Vue and DirecTV Now. All three services offer a similar group of channels at varying prices but no one service has really taken the market. There are a number of reasons why this has not happened from people’s lack of understanding as to what the services do to a reluctance to drop traditional pay services. But there are some things that providers can put into place that will take things to the next level. The service that can pull together these features first will have a big edge against the competition.
The Best Live TV Streaming Service Will Do These Things
Live streaming is hard. It’s hard on servers, on bandwidth and other related systems. But if people want to tune in to the debut of a favorite show or a sports event they want to see the program, not spend time on the phone understanding how sorry their pay service is that the program is not displaying. No service has been without its hiccups and when the hiccups happen during high profile events the effects linger on social media.
Play Station Vue has offered limited DVR functions for some time and Sling TV is now beta testing the feature as well. DVR is a must in the current and most likely future video market. Americans simply do not regularly run to their TV’s for appointment viewing anymore. Only monumentally popular shows like Game Of Thrones or the Walking Dead get such treatment and that is because of the next day chat at work aspect. DVR is a staple of digital cable and a can’t miss feature in the time shifted world we live in.
Really Provide Local Channels
We are light years from this being a reality but if one of the streaming TV options can figure out how to get the deals in place to offer local TV channels in all markets without rights issues affecting things like NFL broadcasts and other major live sports it will give that company a huge edge. Right now all of the services offer local affiliates for markets where the local channels are owned directly by networks. PlayStation Vue claimed as it launched that it would only offer service where it could provide local network affiliates. Not surprisingly it fell on its face on that promise as the service was only available in 6-8 cities in the US, then fell on its sword. PlayStation Vue late launched nationally with a plan that did not guaranty local channels. We have talked about the complications regarding offering local network affiliates before. If it is going to happen it will be with one of the major TV providers first. Look for Dish Network’s Sling TV or AT&T’s DirecTV Now as the most likely to truly deliver on this idea.
100 percent access to TV Everywhere apps
TV Everywhere apps could be so great if they worked in a more uniform way. Apple has tried to build its new app around the integration of TV everywhere apps but even with the best intentions TV Everywhere apps can be difficult to use because they do not offer service to every TV provider. If a streaming service were able to work in 100 percent of the TV everywhere apps that coincide with its TV offerings it would help a lot of users who might feel constrained by the amount of live streams they can access through their services. There are so many TV everywhere channels it would add a great deal of content and viewing options.
Fox News, CNN and MSNBC on the most basic Plan
America is a country of tribes when it comes to political news. The viewing public would likely appreciate access to the top national news stations without having to bump up to another programming tier. There will always be some channel left out that people will say is some kind of a deal killer but access to a person’s favorite political personalities would smooth over a lot.
A simple and straight forward interface
All of the services I have tried out so far have a great deal of features and interesting interfaces. But are the simple. No. These TV interfaces are all designed as though they were put together with an emphasis on menus and not an emphasis on watching TV. The cable model can not be more straight forward. While there is always the option to pull up menus and guides and other options anybody can pick up a remote and do a serviceable job of navigating without special training.
The Ability to Flip Through Channels
Building on the interface argument is this. People are so accustomed to just scanning through channels by clicking up and down on their remotes. But none of the streaming services offers users the ability to do this easily and quickly. In order to find programming users are often asked to go to a large guide and scan through a menu. These features are pretty and actually quite functional. But they are not so simple a child could do it.
Uniform On-Demand services
If a service offers on demand options on one channel it should offer on-demand services on all channels. What is available on-demand is up to the networks themselves, not the provider like Sling TV or DirecTV Now. But the inconsistency reflects badly on the company regardless. If there is a way to flex some muscle and get all of the channels in line it would be a boon to the services. What should be expected in most cases is at the least the last 5 episodes of any given series on a channel if not the current season. Consumers would love this feature. It may be too complicated at the moment to offer such a feature, but if it can be figured out the company who does it will have a winner on their hands.