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Net Neutrality Ushers in the Era of Streaming Services

Earlier this year, when the FCC established clear legal guidelines for net neutrality, strong opinions emerged about the ruling. Millions of people weighed in, and while some hailed the new rules as a major victory for consumers, others complained about what they considered to be government overreach. 

How are service providers responding?

Several Internet service providers issued a request—albeit an unsuccessful one—to delay implementation of the new rules. And, though there are still a number of pending lawsuits, most notably the case involving Verizon and AT&T, the fight over net neutrality is mostly over.

How does the ruling impact streaming services?

A newly released study concluded that this year the sale of streaming devices will exceed the growth of traditional set-top devices used by cable companies and satellite TV providers. Granted this doesn’t signal the end of cable and satellite companies, but it does shed light on customer preferences. And, that is, an increasing number of TV viewers prefer to obtain entertainment and video content from streaming services, like Netflix and Hulu. Furthermore, studies show that streaming services are popular across the board with all demographics, not just the millennials. In fact, streaming has become so commonplace that people assume that they can find everything online, which is not necessarily the case. Consequently, many consumers have “cut the cord,” and gotten rid of cable and satellite.

Still, current streaming services have a notable disadvantage—they don’t actually carry the same content as TV providers. For example, the TV shows provided by streaming services are rarely available in real-time and you can rarely view broadcasts like live award shows and sporting events. In this capacity, cable companies retain an undeniable edge.

Will traditional TV services be able to preserve their monopoly on exclusive content?

Their monopoly may be on the verge of cracking.  Apple will soon announce its new TV service, and rumors indicate that it will include many of the most popular prime-time television shows as well as a limited number of channels for $40-$50 a month. This is a significant savings from what most cable companies charge. Perhaps, most important, the service would signal a monumental change in the way that consumers access content, as they’ll be able to watch most TV shows online, thereby justifying the entire concept of net neutrality.

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