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The Most and Least Disruptive Streaming TV Services

Disruption can have good and bad consequences. In entertainment, the rise of online video is eroding pay television’s hold on the viewer. But over-the-top channels that don’t require a traditional cable subscription are exploding, creating opportunities for new and old media businesses.

Historically, most of these over-the-top services were the province of smaller companies outside the pay-TV industry. But as their core businesses have stagnated, big media companies are jumping in, with new over-the-top channels coming from Time Warner’s HBO and Viacom, among others.

The companies have varying agendas, which consumers and potential content partners should keep in mind as they evaluate the endless stream of headlines around such services.

Some companies are trying to build standalone offerings with enough selection that people might pay for them instead of cable. Others are focusing on narrower areas of content or putting their shows online for negotiating leverage with cable companies, on which they’ve depended for distribution in the past.

Here’s a guide to some of the more notable OTT services, along with what we think about each’s potential to disrupt the traditional cable bundle.

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