Amazon add-on subscriptions service CONtv seems to have come out of nowhere for Prime members looking for ways to cut the cable cord.
The service is a mishmash of fanboy culture and movies/television shows that you probably haven’t heard of since childhood.
Previously available through Roku, Android, and iOS, the premium service has been quietly spreading to all parts of the digital realms with originals like the CONtv Star Wars Party series in the buildup and release of The Force Awakens and a mix of nostalgia bombs (She-Ra, Princess of Power, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe) and newer independent films (POD, Julia).
Unlike most of the high-profile Amazon add-on subscriptions, which can sell in the $8.99 and $9.95 per month range, CONtv is available for just $4.99 per month, complete with the same week-long trial and cancel-anytime approach.
It’s not unlike Shudder, AMC’s horror streaming channel, but in addition to classic horror films, it offers a more all-encompassing catalog of superhero/action favorites to supplement.
The Amazon add-on subscriptions model poses a serious threat to cable’s crumbling dominance, especially now that it is offering long-established premium channels like Showtime and Starz without the need for a traditional cable package.
Ultimately, it’s a move that is putting viewers closer to true “a la carte” programming where they get to choose the channels they want instead of taking a package filled with one or two items they would watch and a dozen others that are quickly forgotten.
CONtv and Shudder and all the other Amazon add-on subscriptions that are available at present may be doing a small fraction of the business that the ESPNs and Comedy Centrals are, but they are providing more fragmented and focused programming.
This offers significant insight into viewer tastes and it could threaten to put a lot of cable catalog channels out of business.
The data certainly shows that the threat is real with a June 2015 report from TechCrunch revealing an 8.2 percent rise in the amount of people engaged in cord cutting, or the practice of ditching traditional cable television.
More from TechCrunch:
“… in 2014, 8.2 percent of former pay TV subscribers surveyed by TiVo subsidiary Digitalsmiths said they ditched their service — an increase of 1.3 percent over the prior year. Meanwhile, a much larger 45.2 percent said they reduced their cable or satellite TV service during the same time frame.
“That latter item is sometimes referred to as ‘cord shaving,’ as it’s reflective of the trend toward smaller pay TV bundles as consumers spend more time streaming video via over-the-top solutions like Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Instant Video, for example. Pay TV providers aren’t necessarily losing these customers, but these subscribers are reducing their reliance on their cable and satellite television offerings as they adopt streaming services. And in some cases, dropping down to a smaller pay TV package is the first step in becoming a true cord cutter.”
CONtv is a channel that has arisen out of this “shaving” or “cutting” mentality. With its more focused look at entertainment — and one of the more unique catalogs in the streaming world — it has caused many viewers to look more closely at what their tastes really are rather than just accepting the status quo.
Expect the trend to continue, with channels continuing to tweak their business models.
Currently, it appears as if $8.99 is a “sweet spot” for premium channels of the type you would find on cable with the one exception being HBO NOW, which asks $14.99 per month.
Shudder, CONtv, and the like seem to have found their own smaller sweet spot in the $4.99 range.
It’s important for these newer networks to establish dominance in their niches now as viewers contemplate the future of the a la carte model.
What do you think of CONtv? Are you a subscriber to this or any other subscription add-ons? Share your experiences below.
[Image via CONtv website]