Will Vidgo become the ultimate TV app?
Yes, I know that the Vidgo app has not been released yet, yet we are still very excited about its upcoming launch (no date announced yet). Vidgo engineers and executives have been working tirelessly for the last 12 months, prepping every single detail so nothing goes unchecked before the much-awaited launch of the app.
But, even though Vidgo is not yet available on the market, that doesn’t deter us from talking about or dreaming about the possibilities. That’s exactly what good movie trailers create, don’t they? They create buzz and excitement, plus they allow the viewer to determine whether that initial encounter might be a good fit.
Yes, I also know some of you may be mad just because the app has not launched yet, but, to be fair to Vidgo, they have never announced a hard, definite date. It’s like when a movie advertises “Coming soon to a theater near you.” We just know it’s coming!
WHAT HAS BEEN REVEALED SO FAR
Even though the people on the inside at Vidgo have known for quite some time about the intricacies of the inner workings of the app, the soft launch did not occur until the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas at the beginning of 2016.
Truthfully, I was at the show talking to some of the inside people and the excitement level was very high, especially when news media, such as The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo News or Mashable, published the announcement through their outlets. Email started inundating the executives’ inboxed and the countdown began.
Inevitably, besides excitement, many industry insiders have become very anxious since the promise of a TV-revolutionizing app seems to strike a chord with many. And Vidgo understands the need to know when exactly it will be launched.
However, they also understand that to be able to compete in this market, a half-baked product would destroy their intentions. Should they rush their entry into their market and run into technical difficulties, that initial backlash would be catastrophic.
Thus, they keep working every minute detail, polishing the interface, and continuously testing the app.
As Mashable reported back in January, one of the keys to the potential success of the Vidgo app may reside in the way the company defines itself. According to the article published, “So what does this mean for Vidgo? Again, we don’t know. Because details on the service are sparse — though the company did call itself an MVPD in an email to Mashable.”
WHAT IS AN MVPD?
An MVPD (multichannel video programming distributor) is, according to the FCC definition,
[A] person such as, but not limited to, a cable operator, a multichannel multipoint distribution service, a direct broadcast satellite service, or a television receive-only satellite program distributor, who makes available for purchase, by subscribers or customers, multiple channels of video programming.
Why is this definition important? Well, it seems to be a double-edged swod. On one hand, the classification as an MVPD imposes certain regulations (closed captioning, volume control on commercials, among others) on the OTT provider. On the other hand, the classification provides more leverage when it comes to obtaining content from broadcasters.
So, as long as the provider can afford the costs associated with the denomination, it seems a like a good deal.
CABLE TV WITHOUT THE NEGATIVES?
Originally lauded in the 60s as a disrupter in TV industry, cable operators began proliferating in the early 70s when the FCC eased the restrictions. At the beginning, these cable operators were just reaching areas of the country where broadcasters coverage was not available. As they grew in size, some of them have become synonym with stagnation, lack of real customer service and impossible-to-escape contracts.
In a sense, OTT services are giving cable providers a taste of their own medicine. When reaching out to potential customers, many pointed out their dissatisfaction with their cable or satellite contracts, expressing in some cases disgust over prices, bundles, and customer service.
That’s why when a service like Vidgo is rumoured to provide a la carte service, many consumers jump in joy. Now, to be fair, Vidgo has not announced whether they would offer a-la-carte service or not. Mashable, for instance, published that Vidgo would offer three package tiers, although nothing has been officially announced.
The main attraction in any case would be to have the same cable experience, content and ability to watch in several devices simultaneously, without the high price or long-term contracts.
CORD-NEVERS, CORD-CUTTERS, OR CORD-SHAVING
Group of friends watching Vidgo on a tablet
Wow. That’s a lot of cords right there on the heading. When it comes to potential viewers in the streaming world, you may read about the following categories (although I have never heard anyone calling themselves by any of these names):
- Cord-nevers: People who have never subscribed to cable or satellite TV service. Obviously, the majority of the cord-nevers are youngsters who may be just going to college and face the decision of whether to subscribe to TV services. When it comes to these viewers, many don’t even install a traditional TV set in their dorms, since most of their viewing is done on other screens, especially tablets and smartphones.
- Even though some of the cord-nevers are ages 32 and up , who are basically aware of what they are giving up, there’s a subset a cord-nevers (digital cord-nevers) who rely purely on services like Netflix or YouTube.
- Cord-cutters: This group, people who used to pay for cable or satellite TV service, might be the most popular of them all. Courted by the new streaming services available, cord-cutters were blamed last year for the decline in stock prices of some of the biggest players in the TV industry. For instance, Time Warner Inc.’s stock lost 13% and, Disney lost 10%, and Viacom’s stock lost 23%, according to the Wall Street Journal.
- In other words, the big companies, distributors as well as content providers are aware of the shift within the industry. Even though that, according to some market surveys, they only represent about 10 percent of the population, their presence has been increasingly felt in the last few years across the TV industry. According to research firm SNL Kagan, from April through June this year, over 800,000 pay TV subscribers cut the cord.
- Cord-shavers: Now that the industry of fully aware of the number of options consumers have, and some of the cable and satellite companies fear a massive exodus of consumers towards streaming services, many have began to offer options to reduce the TV subscription bill with “skinnier” bundles of channels, which would allow viewers to retain some of the channels and pay much less, in essence “shaving” their bills.
- While these consumers might not be ready to completely cut the cord just yet, they are basically testing the waters, finding ways to cut their TV bills.
WHAT MUST VIDGO OFFER IN ORDER TO BECOME A SERIOUS PLAYER
After talking to hundreds of potential customers about their TV viewing experience, their wish list when it comes to a streaming service, and their overall dissatisfaction level with their current subscribers, we can discern several clear patterns of where VIDGO streaming service should be in order to become a real contender.
- Vidgo must offer a more affordable package. Even if Vidgo does not end up offering a-la-carte service, they must definitely offer a more affordable way (compared to cable and satellite providers) to watch your favorite channels, at least with an introductory, basic package that must include the most popular channels.
- Vidgo must offer DVR capabilities. Most of the people I interviewed for this post expressed their wish to have their shows recorded, especially if it does not involve additional equipment, so a cloud DVR might be the perfect solution.
- Vidgo must allow the viewer to watch in several devices simultaneously at no extra cost. While it is true that many people still watch their shows on a traditional TV set, many viewers would prefer to also have access to the content in a plethora of devices, including tablets, computers, and smartphones.
- Vidgo must work in existing devices in the market. There’s no point when one is running away from cable and satellite providers to force the viewer to buy additional devices, whether it’s a cable box, a dish, or even an antenna.
- So, if Vidgo manages to offer the streaming service without requiring to buy anything extra, that would be a win-win situation. Being able to watch using a smartTV, Roku, Amazon FireStick or any other streaming device should be the way to go.
- Vidgo must offer sports channels. One of the most requested types of contents during my interviews was sports (hello, Football season!). In order to make a dent into this increasingly competitive market, Vidgo must offer the opportunity to watch the most popular sports.
- Vidgo should include local channels. I know some of you might no longer watch the local news, but unsurprisingly to me, many interviewees pointed that having local channels would be a nice plus for the streaming service, something not yet widely available in any other streaming service.
- Vidgo must offer streaming at high definition. Even though the quality of the stream will ultimately depend on the bandwidth available in each household, Vidgo should aim to provide HD content whenever possible.
- Vidgo must offer easy navigation- slick interface. What happens when one tries to play around with some of the existing streaming apps (not gonna name names)?
- Frustration abounds, trying to find a decent show or a show from the catalog, plus some of the apps shamelessly place their own shows right on the first page, making it really hard for the user to find what they are really looking for. Hence, an easy-to-navigate interface could also add a plus to the app.
WILL VIDGO SUBSTITUTE NETFLIX?
We have reached a point in the TV streaming market in which it is no longer necessary, in my opinion, to have just one app. Yes, it would be nice if Vidgo would take care of all the regular TV channels, plus DVR capabilities, and an attractive Video-On-Demand catalog, but I don’t see why Vidgo could not co-exist with Netflix.
Netflix has established itself as the go-to app for movie watching, plus in the last few years it has also become a content creator with several award-winning shows (House of Cards, Orange Is the New Black, among others) so a combo Netflix-Combo might be the ideal solution for many households.
WHAT ABOUT CONTRACTS?
As part of the business model of many subscriber-based services, including cable and TV providers, they rely on the fact that once a customer signs up, it becomes very hard for them to cancel their services (call it inertia). This tendency to remain inactive and do nothing to change the current status has played in favor of many giant corporations.
Hence, VIDGO will most likely offer a no-contract-based approach, thereby allowing customers to cancel the service at any time, without incurring any penalties. This freedom will allow many skeptics to try the service without any risk.
But in our opinion, Vidgo will also be an appealing option for the young cord-nevers, those who have grown up in an all-digital world and who expect the freedom provided by an app that can be used anywhere, anytime, from any device, without many limitations.
WILL VIDGO MAKE IT?
As it is the case with many new service, as soon as Vidgo launches, there will be an initial wave of early adopters who will jump right away, at least to try the service at first. But it will be the following wave the one that will determine the fate of the app.
If it manages to live up to the expectations, with high quality content, sports content, a good price point, and local channels (initially in the major metropolitan areas), the app may become mainstream.
Obviously, we, as well as the hundreds of people I interviewed, hope that Vidgo TV will conquer the TV market by filling a currently underserved market, one that has high expectations about what a good TV streaming app should be.
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This article was originally published in the VidgoTv blog.