What is Virtual Pay-TV?

One of the bigger complaints with cable TV is that it just hasn’t kept up with the times. While consumers world-wide are able to stream video from anywhere, to any device, those with far more expensive cable subscriptions are still tethered to clunky hardware and wall outlets. Why can’t you take your cable subscription with you? Well, with newly available virtual pay-TV services, you can. The best example is Dish Network’s Sling TV, a bundle of a dozen or so linear channels, delivered via the web, for just $20 a month. Another option is Sony’s Playstation Vue, a larger offering that more closely resembles traditional cable bundles, but at a higher price. It’s currently on available in select markets. Comcast also has their own Stream, a service similar to Sling TV, but only available to the company’s own bandwidth subscribers. Other cable companies have been experimenting with similar services, with Time Warner Cable having tested one, and Verizon expected to be next to the market with a Sling-style service.

The Big Advantage

Virtual Pay-TV addresses a lot of the common complaints with the full blown version of the service. It tends to consist of smaller channel bundles, making it more affordable than notoriously expensive cable bundles. These services are also available, in theory at least, from anywhere and any device. Not only does this put them on the devices where consumers are accessing more and more content than ever, it eliminates the need for a lot of equipment, and of course, the costs associated with that equipment as well. The barrier to entry is in essence much lower than that for traditional pay-TV because it’s cheaper, easier, and makes use of the devices that consumers already own.

The Difference

So how do Virtual Pay-TV products differ from streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and others? It’s all in the navigation, really. Netflix and Hulu are VOD libraries, meaning that all content is on-demand. Sling TV and other virtual pay-TV offerings, while many do also include on-demand content, are largely made up of linear channels, the same as you’d see them with a cable TV subscription. This similarity to cable TV not only makes the product more familiar to new users, but it offers the advantage of carrying live events, sports, news, and more. While these things can all be accessed online, they can’t from within streaming services like Netflix.