Online TV isn't à la carte, but it sure is getting close. Even though I do pay for cable (Comcast) I still subscribe to several other online streaming services. I don't know why - I like having the option I guess. I've always been somewhat of a collector of TV stuff. I used to save the TV Guide every week when I was a little kid. I did have other books, but I liked having a stack 4 feet tall by the end of the year. But I digress.
My Monthly Subscriptions:
- Comcast Cable w/ HBO
- Hulu Plus
- Dish Network w/ Starz, HBO, and Cinemax
These alone provide tens of thousands of choices.
On top of that, I have apps that allow streaming from NBC, HBO GO, Cinemax GO, Epix, EyeTV, TNT, PBS, TBS, NBC, TWIT, Encore, Starz, MoviePlex, XFINITY (similar to offerings on Dish), Crackle, and a couple more.
To bring some of it under control, I use the AOL TV and Fanhattan apps on the iPad. They don't list whats on on all of these services, but they hit some of the majors - at least enough to give me a show to watch and easy access to it.
With all of these services I bet you think I'm a movie junkie or TV show junkie. I used to be when I was younger, but now I'm pretty happy to watch ESPN and The Peoples Court. And little sprinkling of Survivor, Modern Family, Fear Factor, How Stuffs Made, Big Bang Theory, and ESPN U.
Unfortunately at this time ESPN isn't streaming to my iPhone or iPad since I am a Comcast customer - this is only for a select few cable companies. The good news is that Comcast is on the list and should be offering some live streaming (at least with Disney owned networks) soon.
Hopefully Comcast will make some headway with agreements for streaming all or most of their channels within your own home, and essentially my iPad or iPhone will become a second television set. Cox Cable, Time Warner Cable, Verizon FIOS and others are already doing this. Since Comcast is behind the curve on this one, to make up for their lack of in-home streaming I currently use an EyeTV device and application to make this happen, but it's just 'ok', and doesn't provide me with the higher quality streams I would like or my premium digital channels.
Another issue is that not all of these services (I'm talking to you HULU Plus) make ALL of their content available to the app. I missed Fear Factor the other night and immediately went to Hulu Plus to watch it on my iPad. What? Streaming ONLY on the WEB (and they don't mean the iPad web)! How dare you Hulu. I quickly resolved this issue by launching the NBC App on my iPad, and sure enough, I was able to stream it just fine. I wish all of these licensing issues and power struggles would go away. A guy can dream.
The good news is that while these services may not be providing an elegant all in one solution, they are providing something. Take for example Showtime or The Movie Channel -- I haven't seen any such offerings from them. They have an app on the App store, but it seems to be merely promotional, only offering 'clips'. This is why they are second tier channels -- and will continue to be until they get with the program (er...so to speak).
So, to recap -- I subscribe to too much TV which I don't have the time to watch. That's really the main reason I do - convenience. I want it when I want it, no matter where I am. If I can fit in an episode of Modern Family while I'm waiting for my wife in the car -- that's exactly why I pay this subscription convenience fee. Several of my online friends seem to be cutting the cord - and that is exactly why all of the cable companies are making you stay subscribed so that you can have access to their streaming content. No pay - no shows. I am going to cut the cord this summer -- at least for cable TV and read an iBook.