Buying pay TV over the internet is basically the same thing as buying pay TV from the cable guy.
But not exactly. Rules about who has the right to show certain programming, on certain kinds of devices, keep popping up. And not in a good way.
Case in point: Last night’s Golden Globe awards, which aired on NBC* — but which weren’t available to streaming TV subscribers on services like Sling and DirecTV Now.
NBC also didn’t stream the awards to its conventional pay TV customers. But at least those subscribers could watch the show via conventional methods. People who paid to watch NBC via digital-only services, though, got nothing.
NBC reps declined to comment. But a person familiar with the company says it didn’t stream the show because it couldn’t stream the show: NBC’s existing contract with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which puts on the show via Dick Clark Productions, doesn’t give the network streaming rights.
This was also the case a year ago, but few people noticed, because only one streaming TV service — Sony’s thinly distributed Vue — carried NBC at the time. Now there are three streaming services that carry NBC, with more on the way.
Most — but maybe not all — of this stuff will get worked out over time. In the meantime, be aware that streaming TV isn’t quite the same thing as cable TV.
*NBCUniversal owns NBC and is also a minority investor in Vox Media, which owns this site.