Skip to main content

Beyond Netflix: Where Your Shows Are Hiding

You won't find it all on Netflix

Roku offers an overwhelming 179 TV, movie and sports channels.

Roku offers an overwhelming 179 TV, movie and sports channels.

The phrase "cord cutting" is more about what people get rid of — cable or satellite TV — than what they replace it with. There is no perfect replacement, so cord cutting requires juggling a bunch of different video services.

Netflix is popular: Its streaming service gained 3 million customers just in the first quarter of 2013. Hulu is a lot smaller, but it grew to 10 percent of all TV streaming in the same time period.

And still cord cutters don't have anything close to cable. Netflix doesn't have current episodes of network shows. Only some CBS programs are on Hulu (much to the chagrin of some Time-Warner-Cable customers who have lost access to CBS). And neither outlet has sports, which requires specialized services such as MLB.com for baseball.

MORE: Cord Cutting Dilemma: Should You Keep Cable TV?

Due to licensing deals and costs, there will never be an all-in-one place to go, said Jeremy Toeman, CEO of Dijit, a company that makes the online video search service NextGuide. "Content isn't cheap. Companies forge long-term deals, and nobody can afford to buy everything," said Toeman in an email.

This is baffling for viewers, said Dan Rayburn, analyst with StreamingMedia.com. "The average consumer doesn't know where to get what kind of content in what quality and in what business model," he told Tom's Guide.

To see how messy online video gets, look at Roku, an Internet-streaming box that originally had just one killer app — Netflix. Now it has 127 apps for movies and TV, and another 52 for sports (with yet more for music, games and other entertainment).