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Proposed FCC Rule Changes Could Help Streaming Companies Compete

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A proposed rule change by the FCC could, if approved, give a big boost in online-only streaming services that compete with cable and satellite companies. In a blog post, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler outlined his proposal to update the definition of multichannel video programming distributor (MVPD), giving streaming services the same powers as cable and satellite companies to gain broadcast and cable content.

The FCC first made such a change in 1992, Wheeler writes, to help the young satellite TV industry gain parity with cable, providing a new option for U.S. households.

"Today I am proposing to extend the same concept to the providers of linear, Internet-based services; to encourage new video alternatives by opening up access to content previously locked on cable channels," Wheeler writes.

The coming years will certainly see the birth of several streaming-only bundled options, with the first likely to come from Dish and Verizon. If approved, this move would let those services compete more effectively by including content now standard to basic cable subscribers. It might provide a lifeline for Aereo, which has recently lost some important court decisions.

The move would certainly drive choice for U.S. households and spur innovation. The question is whether or not it will lead to smaller monthly bills. That isn't a given, but it's still a healthy step in driving streaming media innovation.

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