In a surprise move this week two giants gave the antiquated (and some would say extortionist) system of cable bundling it’s final death sentence today, when HBO Go and then CBS, announced they would provide a la carte online use of their programing untethered to any cable subscription. It was an inevitable move to catch up with a nation of cord cutters and a course that was set when the Supreme Court showed the world the current broadcast system had failed when it gave its decision on FilmOn Networks and Aereo’s business models in ABC vs. Aereo in May 2014.
At the time, media analyst Rich Greenfield called FilmOn Network’s revised business plan–one that would play on the Court’s designation of online provides as cable systems– “Financial Nirvana,” and clearly the majors paid attention. Alki David, CEO of FilmOn, said at the time that it was “the beginning of the death of the bundle“–and now it is real.
The HBO move is huge–and should curtail some of the piracy and password sharing that bedevils the premium cable channel. It’s HBO Go app was a game changer–and could have launched on its own out of the box two years ago. It was always clear HBO was just biding its time.
CBS seemed more reluctant to move into the future, with CEO Les Moonves‘ bravado about the network’s position and invincibility seeming like hubris at more and more press conferences. After the Supreme Court ruling he said, “We expected to win, but it certainly feels good to win as decisively as we did.” Perhaps he spoke to soon.
As FilmOn and Aereo continue to battle one injunction after another, and to push for reform of the old rules–nothing proves their point more than HBO and CBS’s decisions this week to, as David has said, “Give the consumer what they want, when they want it, on the devices they love.”
As Fierce Online Video‘s Editor-in-Chief Samntha Bookman put it in July 2014,
“FilmOn’s continuing slog forward inspires some grudging admiration. Alki David’s brand of resistance has about as much chance of surviving as Blackbeard did against Robert Maynard’s task force. But for now he’s continuing to pose a nagging question to regulators and courts: Are current laws giving new technologies a fair chance to develop and compete?”
That perseverance and risk seems like it might be about to pay off.
While Barry Diller‘s Aereo has stopped all service since the Supreme Court decision, FilmOn has still done a robust business with 40 million plus unique users per month viewing its 600 channels and over 40,000 VoDs.
David gave TV Mix a message for Moonves, “Les! Welcome to the 21st Century! I think you’ll like it.”
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TV Mix is owned by FilmOn Networks