TV & Showbiz

Cable Networks Need Streaming Options for Cord Cutters

©Wasin Pummarin/123RF

I learned an important lesson when I attempted to watch a special on CNN: If you don’t have cable, there are no live streaming options.

I learned from a colleague that CNN was airing an original documentary on 9/11 over the weekend. But I belong to a growing number of people who became cord-cutters. That means I’m without streaming options to watch the documentary.

This is a serious issue cable networks need to address and figure out.

Last September, when I moved to my new place, I ended my cable TV subscription. My folks got cable around 1979. So for the first time in 40 years — 40 years — I was without cable television.

Instead, I have Netflix and Hulu and Philo. As an Amazon Prime member, I have access to Amazon Video.

Philo provides several cable networks. CNN, however, is not one of them.

I have a Roku box and I downloaded the CNN Go app.

For a moment, I thought I was in luck.

I launched CNN Go. I navigated to the live component and selected the 911 special. No problem.

A commercial began playing. Up in the right corner, a message with a countdown advised me that I was watching a free preview or premium content. The countdown started at about 10 minutes.

Well, I supposed I’d at least get a sense of how good this special might be.

I sat through the first commercial. Then another. Than another.

The countdown kept ticking down.

I sat through three-and-a-half minutes of commercials. A third of my “preview” was burned up by advertising!

I understand that advertising pays the bills.

As Johnny Carson once quipped as he was directed to go to a commercial break on his final show, “A dollar will always be a dollar.”

In TV, that’s certainly true.

Commercials pay the bills. Everyone who works in television knows this. Most people who watch television know it, but like to pretend to be unaware of it whenever possible.

I don’t mind sitting through almost four minutes of commercials.

But come on, CNN: Don’t count that against my “preview” time! Talk about a gyp!

As I waited for the commercials to end, I started doing a Google search for streaming options for CNN.

Finally, the commercials ended. Finally, the actual documentary returned from break.

I watched about six-and-a-half minutes of what might be a good documentary. Then the preview time expired.

I then saw a popup box asking me to log in with my cable provider information. One button gave me the option to say I did not have a cable provider.

I clicked that button.

It took me back to the normal CNN Go front page where I can select clips from CNN programming broadcast earlier in the day or news stories.

With that, we’re done.

Cable nets have to devise streaming options for cord-cutters.

More importantly, they need to devise realistic streaming options for cord-cutters. I could watch CNN live with YouTube TV or Hulu + Live TV. Both cost around $65 per month.

I could switch to Sling TV, which costs more than Philo. But Sling doesn’t have some of the channels I specifically chose Philo to get. So that’s not really an option, either.

Folks, I cut the cord for a reason. I’m not going back to spending that much money again. If I wanted to spend that kind of cash, I’d still have cable.

Last October, a Variety report listed how much the top cable networks receive from each customer’s subscription. ESPN gets more than $7 per subscriber. I never watched ESPN. Sports is not my thing. So that $7+ per month was wasted money.

CNN gets about $1.01 per cable subscriber.

Maybe CNN could offer a small monthly fee — let’s say they double their fee at $2.

I don’t watch a lot of CNN. (At home, without reasonable streaming options, I don’t watch it at all.) But I’d certainly consider paying $2 or $3 per month.

If the cost were more than that, I’d probably pass.

But if a network like CNN is only getting a buck from cable subscribers, but could get two or three times that much on their own, wouldn’t you think that would be worth it to them?

What would you pay per month to be able to stream a single cable network?

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.