Mossberg: Streaming TV is beginning to look a lot like cable. What happened to Netflix-style choice?

“Streaming TV shows, movies, and other types of video over the internet to all manner of devices, once a fringe habit, is now a squarely mainstream practice,” Walt Mossberg writes for The Verge. “Even people still paying for cable or satellite service often also have Netflix or Hulu accounts. Nearly every traditional TV network, sports league, or video service — even those still primarily grounded in cable or satellite — has a channel or app for playing video on everything from set-top boxes and ‘smart’ TVs to mobile phones.”

“Until recently, however, almost all of these streaming apps and services followed what you might call the Netflix / Hulu model. You paid a fairly modest monthly fee for a large library of shows and movies which you could watch anytime, as many times as you wanted, in whatever order and frequency you wanted,” Mossberg writes. “But that’s changing, and it bothers me. Two big new streaming services, both owned by satellite TV services, have made a splash in the last couple of years, and, when you cut through all the hype about them, they are pretty much just old-style, linear TV services delivered via the net.”

“I’m talking about Sling TV, which is owned by Dish Network and came out last year, and a new competitor, DirecTV Now, which is owned by AT&T, also the owner of the DirecTV satellite service,” Mossberg writes. “I’ve been watching both, on an Apple TV and on a laptop, and I feel like they are a giant step backwards by an industry that’s trying to hold onto customers from an outdated system.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: “TV” is broken and, if Apple’s efforts are any indication, it’s not getting fixed anytime soon. At this point, we’ll settle for Apple adding our cable system to Apple TV’s single sign-on.


  1. Cut the cable and run Sonaar (for TV) and Couchpotato (for movies), and when their revenue hurts enough THEN and only then will they look for alternative content delivery options to satisfy the end consumer.

    I’m not cutting cable to get cable over the internet. How stupid do they think we are???

  2. I’m not surprised that there is an internet based service delivering broadcast style TV, given the whole trend towards cord cutting. But part of my interest in cord cutting isn’t just about slashing my cable bill, it’s also about not having my TV viewing tied to a schedule, especially as a parent of young children where the best time to watch TV with my wife is after they go to bed (if they decide to do so 😉 )

  3. And new players are adopting the bad habits of the incumbents. I’ve recently tried Amazon Prime Video and the second season of Mr. Robot is unavailable in my country. I found out that it is because one of our local cable providers bought the “airing” rights until sometime in 2017. When I found this out I promptly cancelled my subscription to Amazon Prime Video. What do I want an Internet streaming video service for if they pull the same sh!t as the old media companies?

    1. They don’t have any choice. The content companies are the ones that sign the exclusivity deals in order to get the most money out of the property. It does suck, though. It’s also why NBC is available on DirecTV Now, but you can’t watch the live stream on Apple TV or Fire TV, or why programs like the Golden Globes were blacked out.

  4. Can’t fix it if CBS and other monopoly companies won’t deal and shake us down. They won’t let Apple do what they did to the music industry! Someone needs to start a campaign and get it going through social media and get loads of people to leave in droves and say the people had enough and then lets see what happens.

    1. I’m not sure that will happen. Hulu will have a streaming service later this year and is owned by Fox, NBC/Universal and ABC/Disney. Sling is owned by Dish and that is the one that is most likely to be gobbled up. PS Vue is owned by Sony and isn’t likely to be bought. And DirecTV Now is owned by AT&T and is more likely to gobble than be gobbled, but they probably can’t gobble Sling/Dish due to competition laws. But who knows now. Google will have a service and isn’t likely to be gobbled. Amazon will have a service and they aren’t a buy-out target. I think the only way that field gets smaller is if the services fail and are dropped by the owners.

  5. People that can afford it won’t cut out cable/satellite, etc. It is basically too much hassle trying to work around for live sporting events, or other stuff just not readily available. I have Direct and Netflix. I’m not getting rid of Direct, because there is a lot of stuff that just isn’t easy to get through the internet. I guess if your a poor MF, you have no choice. Maybe get a better job, and earn more money, and you wont have to suffer with ‘cutting the cable’

  6. I cut the cord. Finally. I watch live sports. I first tried SlingTV and it was good for $40. But, the restrictions for ESPN channels to 1 device were just like the restrictions on music, originally. You should be able to watch on as many devices at the same time as possible. I switched to PlaystationVue, which allows up to 5 simultaneous streams, which is great. DirectTV allows only 2 streams.

    PlaystationVue knocked off $100 on my old cable bill, and I watch all the same sports as before, because I get NBAtv, ESPN1,2 and 3, NBCSN, FoxSports1 and 2, BeInsports. I put up an antenna and get all my broadcast stations. And with an AppleTV, all the movies available to me, VOD are in one place. Before I had to go to the various apps to see what I could watch. For $35, I’m pretty happy!

  7. If Apple isn’t going to do their own streaming service (it’s a crowded space) they should then turn their attention to adding APIs for the companies that do to tie the streaming services into the new TV app. I should be able to say “Tune to CNN” and have my streaming service tune it, whether it’s PS Vue, DirecTV Now, or Sling TV (or in the future, Google, Yahoo, Amazon or Hulu). Right now the TV app is okay but it does not tie in well enough. And Siri control of third party apps stinks.

  8. The cable companies still own the content and won’t let go. There can be no freedom from cable when the content is locked out. Sling and Directv online offers are a joke and to expensive and you still have no choices. Only there selected packages just like what you get already with your providers for tv. When there will be a service that offers channels that you can pick from individually at a considerable lower price then that will be a break through.

  9. I’ve given up on waiting for many TV series to come to OZ. Because of the delay I’ve gone over to Usenet. I’m prepared to pay for up-to-date episodes but a lot of the time it just doesn’t happen.

    The other disincentive to using streaming is the ads, I can’t stand them. Frankly after the bit torrent wars I thought the media providors would have got the message but (sigh) I guess it’s “here we go again”.

  10. Apple needed a massive move to combat this and rightly or wrongly they decided not to buy an existing business doing that or getting into the production or investing big time in rights agreements that they would have needed to to succeed. History will show if they are now too late to the game and/or if such a decision was the correct one. The only thing I would say is that recent inability to manage even existing businesses and products doesn’t suggest an ability to run a large additional division sadly.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.