With a growing number of streaming TV services entering the market, it’s becoming difficult for consumers to make comparisons. People want to know which service is best for them in terms of channel selection, feature set and price, but this involves a lot of research these days.
A new startup launching today called Suppose.tv aims to help, offering an online utility that lets consumers input which channels they want to access, then compare pricing and other features, – like whether or not a DVR is offered – across both streaming TV providers and traditional pay TV operators alike.
The service could help would-be cord cutters figure out if they can actually save money by ditching cable, without losing access to their favorite programs. It could also help those who already pay for a streaming TV service of some kind, by checking to see if another service has a better deal.
Honestly, this is data that I had been collecting in a spreadsheet for personal use, which I long ago gave up updating, given how quickly the market was changing, in terms of new services as well as channel availability.
For example, one thing that’s especially difficult to monitor is whether or not local channels – like CBS, ABC, NBC or FOX – are available on a given service. That’s because in most cases, a streaming service has to cut deals with local affiliates in each market in order to offer the broadcast channels to customers.
Suppose.tv grabs your location (or allows you to manually enter it) so you can find out if local channels are available on the services you’re comparing. This feature isn’t available across the U.S. at this time, says Suppose.tv co-founder John Tantum, but is live in the top 50 markets. That covers 70 percent of the U.S. population, however, so there’s a good chance that the local channel selection feature will work for you.
In addition, not all pay TV providers are available either – as the service seems to lean more towards helping consumers compare the live TV streaming options like Sling TV, DirecTV Now, PlayStation Vue, Hulu Live, YouTube TV, HBO Now, and others.
Tantum, whose background is in telecom, previously started and was president of Virgin Mobile USA. He also started other mobile tech companies, like mobile payments service Wipit and e-book distributor Livrada, before shifting into independent consulting, and then, Suppose.tv.
Suppose.tv co-founder Andrew Shapiro had worked in the past on a mobile email startup PocketMail, and personal radio system ioCast.
Explains Tantum, the idea for Suppose.tv emerged after he had consulted with Virgin Group, which was considering an investment in subscription video services a few years ago. Soon after, the market for streaming TV began to boom.
“We had been following the space closely and it became apparent that there was a new entry every month or two,” he says. “But their services are very complicated – Sling TV, especially, with their number of add-ons and their two base packages,” Tantum continues. “It’s an incredibly complicated choice for a customer to make between the different services, and even within a single service. And not to mention trying to compare that to your satellite and cable provider and the options there.”
Suppose.tv’s new website probably won’t win any design awards, but it serves a practical and much-needed purpose. To use the site, you click on the channels you want on the left, which are then added to a list. You favorite (heart) those you must have included, and then prioritize your list by dragging channels up and down to indicate how important they are to you.
Across the top are other sliders and filters, allowing you to filter for only streaming services, for example, or choose which features you need (e.g. number of simultaneous streams, a DVR). You can can also drag a slider to prioritize whether you’re more concerned with cost savings or channel lineup, which will help better rank Suppose.tv’s recommendations.
The service will then return a list of all the available options, including pay TV and streaming TV, as well as their pricing, and what channels the package includes. Suppose.tv also combines services as needed. For example, it might suggest you buy Sling and CBS All Access, along with an HBO add-on, when you tell it you want a combination of local channels, including CBS, some cable TV fare, and HBO.
It will show you how much you can save by giving up certain channels, too.
In the future, Tantum says Suppose.tv will include on-demand services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu on-demand, and will allow consumers to search not just by channels, but by programming. It’s also manually updating data and information available from the public domain, instead of working directly with service providers (or APIs), and hopes that will change in the future, as well.
Suppose.tv, which is a self-funded project, isn’t currently making money, but could generate revenue through affiliate deals or ads later on. In the meantime, the service is free to use from its website here.