DirecTV Real Interested In Netflix, Contemplates Launching A Competitor

Dave Zatz —  April 26, 2011 — 13 Comments

directv-survey

DirecTV (DTV) hit up some of their customers today with a web survey. A very interesting web survey. As it’s nearly all about Netflix (NFLX) – usage patterns, both physical discs and online streaming. Most intriguing is revelation of a DirecTV “concept” that would provide a “Netflix-like service” to existing satellite television subscribers:

In this next section, we would like you to evaluate a new service that DIRECTV is thinking about offering to their customers. DIRECTV plans to offer a streaming-only Netflix-like service for a flat fee per month, which would appear as a line item on your monthly bill.

  • The service would allow you to stream thousands of movies and television shows over a broadband internet connection to your television, computer or tablet.
  • The content available would likely be past season of current shows as well as older TV series and older movie released (released more than 5 years ago).
  • You could watch as many programs as you want for one flat monthly efe, similar to what Netflix streaming offers.

On one hand, it does indeed sound like a Netflix-esque offering. Yet, on the other, it also sounds a bit like the OnDemand Xfinity iPad streaming Comcast provides existing customers… except, at a cost.  And, if you’re paying, you may as well go with the provider who has the best content on the platforms you possess. Granted, there’s a huge advantage in marketing to your exiting customer base. While I have no doubt Netflix would weather the storm, I wonder where moves such as these would leave Hulu?

(Thanks for the tip, Jon!)

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13 responses to DirecTV Real Interested In Netflix, Contemplates Launching A Competitor

  1. I got a better idea. How about DirecTV just work a deal with Netflix. Although it’s not clear which company should pay the other for their respective customers. ;)

  2. Line item on bill kills it for me, who wants to pay $50 a month for TV service and then pay more just for the luxury of having it on demand? Make it low cost and available for nonDTV subscribers and I might be interested, but this sounds more like a sneaky way to increase prices.

  3. Amazing how VOD is still a long way from utopia. I want to pull up some obscure show from the 70s and know it will be there.
    Somebody will figure this out!
    DTV finally gets NBC. I pull up the latest Buggest Loser. Great. Then find out you can’t fast forward the show or commercials. How is that a good thing?

  4. “…I wonder where moves such as these would leave Hulu?”

    I don’t see this type of service having a significant impact on Hulu/Hulu Plus. As noted in the customer survey, this service would focus on providing access to past seasons of current shows and older series. Conversely, Hulu’s primary selling point is access to the current season of shows.

    I agree with Mr. Freeberg’s assessment of this proposed service. To that, I would add that the appeal of all the new cable/satellite streaming initiatives is lost on me. It seems to me that most of the people that are interested in streaming content are not interested in getting that content on their mobile devices; that is just a side benefit. Most are interested in getting their desired content on a large screen television from a source OTHER than the cable/satellite companies. The cable/satellite companies seem to be missing the most salient point: Consumers like the content, they don’t like the companies that currently are the primary sources of delivering it.

  5. Eh, I didn’t mean this service specifically. But as more providers offer these types of experiences, there may be less room for newcomers. You say people interested in ‘streaming content’ are looking to go over the top (and bypass their traditional provider). But at some point it’ll become just people interested in ‘content’ who have no understanding of or interest in the delivery mechanism. They’re a much larger group and most already have a (satisfactory) relationship with the cable or satellite companies. And they’re the ones that can broker favorable deals on our behalf. Hulu Plus will be squeezed out.

  6. What you see here is the hideous death rattle of a bloated, obese dinosaur. With cancer. And AIDS.

  7. “I wonder where moves such as these would leave Hulu?”

    Just fine, I’d assume, working on the assumption that Hulu is intended to be a real ongoing profit-making operation, and not just a placeholder to keep content companies from splintering and cutting bad individual licensing deals until the OTT market fully shakes out.

    Hulu’s got content. If you want shows from the Hulu consortium, (which includes the bulk of broadcast TV), then there is no alternative anyone can offer.

  8. I think this is where DISH is going with their purchase of Blockbuster. They already do it with their DISHONLINE.COM site and it shouldn’t take too much to bring it to your TV as well.

  9. More and more I hear people make the leap to thinking about available content vs specific content. People all around me are cutting cable for Netflix/OTA options. If I want to watch a movie some evening, I care more that it’s good and within a desired genre typically than that it is something specific. I have a couple holdout shows, but I’ve largely been able to transition from the content I can’t easily get via Netflix/OTA.

  10. If they were able to upgrade their infrastructure and software to support thousands of new titles, along with the ability to instantly stream those titles via an internet connected receiver, computer, tablet or other mobile device, I think it would be a great benefit to the existing service.

    Right now, the VOD needs work.
    1. The selection of HD VOD is very slim.

    2. They have about 6,000 titles on demand. Well Fios has about double that, and Comcast has even double what Fios has. They need to improve this library.

    3. Even on a 10mbps + connection, DirecTV seems to throttle the download at about 5mbps. This causes VOD to download to your DVR hard drive. It doesn’t just instantly start like Netflix or Cable VOD! Even if you have 100mbps connection, you still get the content at about 5mbps! They need to properly asses your connection speed and determine if it can support live streaming. This would make VOD much more enjoyable with the click and instant play. Right now it’s not even considered video on demand… it’s considered download on demand.

    4. With a beefed up infrastructure that supports instant live streaming, non DVR’s can join in and use the service. For pay titles, this opens up a whole new revenue stream. Regular HD receivers could get content. Content could be ported to a website or mobile app (ios/android for example). They could get revenue from streaming only subscribers… perhaps people who can get fast internet, but live in an area where putting up a dish is not practical.

    Overall I think this could be a good thing. If they introduce instant streaming and a beefed up content library for subscribers, that would be welcome in my home. If they add movie packages, say for $15 a month you can watch 6 new releases. That kind of bulk discount may attract more revenue in the long run, rather than paying those one shot $5.99 plus tax for a movie.

  11. when Hulu started shutting down specific browsing experiences I was done with Hulu. They are dead to me.

    I have Netflix already, why pay provider again and likely more for some VOD?

  12. The normally execrable Todd Spangler has an interesting response to this post…

  13. Yah, a survey is just a survey until something is deployed, as also pointed out by GigaOm. But DirecTV’s nearly single minded focus on “Netflix” makes this more interesting than the typical customer inquiry.

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