The launch of HBO NOW means two things. First, and most obvious, HBO programming is now available to a wider audience and can subscribed to without a cable package. Second, and possibly most impactful, there is now one less reason to have a cable package.

HBO NOW joins the growing list of streaming services – Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Instant Video, to name a few – that are rendering cable obsolete. Really, the only reason to continue paying for cable is to watch sports and even then, several subscriptions (NHL GameCenter, MLBTV, NBA League Pass) exist that allow users to watch any out of market game they choose.

These options are gaining popularity as an alternative to cable. Thanks to the Internet, we’ve grown accustomed to having pretty much everything we’re looking for available on demand; why should our TV operate any differently? I, myself, am one of those people who’ve said goodbye to cable for these very reasons.

And that’s to say nothing of the highly publicized and embarrassing customer service exchanges which have been caught on tape. The opportunity to avoid this hassle is just one more bonus in the eyes of many cable subscribers.

Cable has fallen behind its competition. There’s now a substitute to flipping through hundreds of channels with nothing good on TV. Instead, we can dial up our own marathons or recap missed programming on our schedules. Sure, cable has taken measures to improve their product and offerings, but frustrations like requiring customers to sign up for packages to gain access to specific channels are off-putting, to say the least. And the attitude has too long been “that’s the way it works.”

If they haven’t already, cable companies should see the introduction of HBO NOW as a wakeup call of sorts. They need to look at why HBO NOW and Netflix and all of the other alternatives are gaining steam so they can compete. There needs to be change in the way they provide services and options. The 21st entury customer is extremely selective and wants to be in control of their decisions, not at the mercy of someone else. Cable needs to recognize this and innovate.