October 17, 2014
By Troy Dreier
This week, HBO and CBS made headlines by announcing streaming-only subscription options, the long-awaited first moves in creating a la carte paid options for viewers. Today, the Wall Street Journal reported that Univision is likely to go down that same road.
The Spanish-language broadcaster is busy making its website and app available for viewers who don't have pay TV subscriptions, says Tonia O'Connor, the company's president of content distribution. While its UVideos site currently streams live and on-demand programming, the majority of the content requires authentication.
Univision occupies a unique place in broadcasting, one that makes it ideally suited to a streaming subscription model. O'Connor says that 76 percent of its viewers between 18- and 49-years-old don't watch any other channel. For them, trading a cable or satellite subscription of $60 to $100 per month for a $6 to $10 subscription would be an easy choice.
O'Connor added that TV Everywhere authentication requirement keep the online content from reaching all of the network's viewers.
Citing analyst comments, the rest of the WSJ article takes a dim view of a la carte options. Analysts suggest that consumers would pay the same amount for less content, and that the loss of ad revenue would shrink the number of cable channels to about 20. What the article misses is that households will likely choose options that cost less in total than their current pay TV bills -- happy to cut out channels they don't watch -- and that ad-supported online-only series are already popular with young adults, many of whom have never had a pay TV subscription.