What’s going to happen when we can watch anything on-line we see on TV today or in the theaters instantly on-line (and that image is delivered to your living room or any TV) ? What happens to the ‘per subscriber’ guarantees that programmers pay cable ops to carry their satellite feed? And when I can get CNN for free on-line instantly via the Internet? Or Noggin? Or Lifetime? Or Disney? Right now I subscribe to Time Warner – I get about 150 channels. I think we watch the following: 3 ‘local’ channels (ABC, NBC and CBS), Lifetime (wife), Noggin and Boom (daughter) and ESPN and an occasional HBO movie. That’s 8 channels. If I pushed that I can probably include several others like Turner Classic Films, AMC and Discovery. But not too many beyond that.
Since I can remember, cable companies have controlled what I watch and when I watched it. If a cable op. didn’t like the a channel, it wouldn’t carry it and we couldn’t see it. We were in a closed, 4 wall environment. We are still in that environment, but the walls are coming down. Very slowly. And the big three TV guys are in total denial. They are programming like its still 1999.
In this new world of ‘TVnomics’, I no longer need to hope that my cable operator will carry a particular program. With the likes of Hulu, YouTube, TV.com, and a few other content aggregators, I’m no longer tethered forever to Time-Warner. Using Amazon or Netflix I can watch on-line nearly anything I can find on my Time-Warner delivered TV service. And this has only really been possible since approximately 2 yrs. and 3 months ago (May, 2008) when Hulu launched.
So we have been seeing very ‘non-traditional’ programming hawking itself as a TV show for the web. Shows on no budgets, small ones and even big one. Some of these shows are being pushed out to the web by the networks (trying to find some viewer traction), and some by independent suppliers. All of them for the most part are sub-par and relatively few advertisers have climbed aboard.
Instead, the networks think that if they tease the traditional TV audience they have with bits and snippets of content found on TV pushed onto the web, they can have TV on the web or call it ‘Web TV’. Why in the world don’t CBS, NBC or ABC stream this ‘live’ simultaneously with broadcast? Why can’t they put the same show and advertisers on-line day and date with its broadcast on TV? Won’t this substantially help grow the very business on-line they fear now? Yes, I bet it would.
And in the long run, not too much of what they can do will prevent us all from getting it on-line. Once the majority of us have fat pipes able to deliver a TV show and watch a show seamlessly (think FIOS) as if it WAS TV, then instead of their being 95 million cable homes and 200 million homes with TV’s, there will be hundreds of millions of homes with TV’s – they’ll just be connected to a fat, dumb pipe. This changing of the guard won’t take that long – figure in the 5 years or so, things will REALLY shift.