A year ago exactly, I made my predictions for 2019. It’s time for the rubber to hit the road, as they say. Let’s talk about what I got right and what I got wrong.
It wasn’t much of a reach to say that you’d pay more for streaming in 2019. And most people did, by adding AppleTV+ or Disney+ to their streaming portfolios.
However, I predicted that AT&T would have a major new streaming service. They announced it, in the form of HBO Max, but it won’t be here until next year.
I also didn’t really talk about how live TV streaming has stumbled in ’19. AT&T TV NOW is a great service (and it was a great service when it was called DIRECTV NOW) but it’s lost subscribers. So has Sling, and so have Hulu, YouTube, and pretty much every other live streamer. The only winner has been Pluto TV, which seems to have found the live streaming formula: Make it free and load it up with commercials. That’s one prediction I actually got right.
I predicted that the media would be out for blood in 2019, proclaiming the death of pay TV, especially satellite. Well I was right on the money there. There have been tons of articles about how DIRECTV isn’t worth what AT&T paid for it, and how DISH isn’t sustainable unless they merge with someone. The knives are out, and they’re all pointing at pay TV.
And yet despite subscriber losses that met or exceeded those of previous years, AT&T and DISH are still making money. They’re finding their focus in a world filled with alternatives. DIRECTV and DISH may not be the perfect solution for everyone but they are the perfect solution for a still-very-large number of people.
I also forecast that the T16 satellite would be launched and it was. It’s happily settled into its position at the 101 location.
Cellular and Internet
I didn’t have much to say last year except that 5G would come slowly, people would complain about the merger of Sprint and T-Mobile, and top-end phones would cost about $1,500. Check, check, and check.
What I didn’t talk about was the rise of really competent alternatives in the $700 range, like the base iPhone 11 (the one with only two gigantic cameras.) So yes you can pay top top dollar for a phone now but you can still do extraordinarily well in a lower price point. The discounts even make it possible for you to get into a premium phone for as little as $350 in some cases.
Home internet didn’t change much this year, but cell internet speeds have gone off the charts. It’s now possible to get 75Mbps in almost every city or town in America, all from a cell phone. I remember when 75kbps sounded good.
Antennas and Over-the-Air Broadcasting
I forecast no growth or low growth in 4K over-the-air this year and I’m sad to say I was right. ATSC 3.0, now called NEXTGEN TV, remained mostly a theory in 2019. In the meantime, as I predicted, we all had to scan for channels a lot.
Final grade: “solid B”
So last year I didn’t make any really far-out predictions, but then again my conservative predictions were right on target most of the time. It’s time to look forward to 2020, and I’ll see you there!