Summary:

If a new customer survey is any indication, satellite TV provider DirecTV might be interested in rolling out a subscription over-the-top video offering like Netflix’s streaming service. DirecTV is polling customers on how often they watch online video, perhaps to create its own online service.

Source: Flickr / Cantoni

If a new customer survey is any indication, satellite TV provider DirecTV might be interested in rolling out a subscription over-the-top video service akin to Netflix. DirecTV is polling customers on how interested they would be in a new online service with content that would be made up of “past seasons of current shows as well as older TV series and older movie releases,” according to screenshots from a survey obtained by Zatz Not Funny!

If that sounds familiar, it could be by design. DirecTV seems to make no bones about modeling its own potential offering after Netflix. In fact, it refers to the ultra-popular subscription streaming service many times in the survey. “You could watch as many programs as you want for one flat monthly fee, similar to what Netflix offers,” is how it describes the proposed video service.

After the introduction, the DirecTV survey asks subscribers how much streaming content they watch over the Internet, as well as their reasons for doing so. It also asks respondents to rate DirecTV’s service compared to what they get from a Netflix subscription, and it asks about their current TV and online video viewing habits.

Customer surveys can help companies gauge consumer behavior — like when Hulu asks its viewers if they are cord cutters — but they’re often indicators of upcoming product offerings. Netflix, for instance, frequently uses customer surveys — like when it surveyed users on their interest in an iPhone app .

That said, not everything alluded to in a customer survey ends up as a full-fledged product: Netflix asked its users a few years ago if they would pay an additional $9.99 for access to streaming HBO content, but that offering never came to pass. And Redbox’s  long-awaited streaming service, which it surveyed users about more than a year ago, has yet to be launched (although Redbox says it’s in the process of evaluating partners for the service).

But the real question is how competitively priced an alternative streaming service from DirecTV would be, and what types of content it could offer that might not already be available from other services. Netflix is facing increasing competition, with the launch of Hulu’s subscription service last year, as well as the introduction of a streaming service tied to Amazon’s Prime shipping service. There’s also the belief that satellite TV provider Dish Network could come to market with a new online service leveraging assets it acquired in the Blockbuster bankruptcy auction. Adding yet another player to the mix could stymie some of Netflix’s meteoric growth.

The good news for content owners is that, with a number of new and emerging subscription offerings in the online space, content producers could reap the benefits of increasing competition. More players fighting for consumer interest could help bid up the price of exclusive content deals and add additional revenues from non-exclusive deals — which can be a good thing for the industry as a whole.

Photo courtesy of (CC BY 2.0) Flickr user Brian Cantoni.

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