The Future of Television
Cable television is obsolete, or at least in it's death throes. Network television is bound to go the same way, as I see it. But what is going to replace it? What could possibly replace something so ingrained in our nations experience since Uncle Milton? Streaming media.The problem with network television, and cable television, satellite, etc. is the schedules for their shows. People have had to reorder their lives to watch their favorite shows, know what John is doing about his rocky relationship wi Marsha, and who won last weeks game. While live shows pretty much dictate the schedule, pre-recorded productions need have no such restrictions. So why do they?Networks and cable channels are all about making money, and they have revenue streams coming in from advertisements and subscriptions. Money going out goes to the production teams. So in order to make money, more money needs to come in from subscriptions and/or advertisements than goes to the production teams themselves. Therefore, networks and cable companies try to place shows and events where they will make the most money. Unfortunately, they don not always succeed.With our current modern lives, we have found ways to work, eat, and recreate when it is convenient for us. And we have even started to apply that principle to our television viewing and movie going experiences through buying DVD content, or trying to stream video from the Internet. But there is a problem: no one can seem to decide how this Internet streaming thing needs to work. Try as they might, they can't seem to get it right. Time Warner is providing streaming media through their iPad app to their customers by channel, so no matter where they are they can adhere to the channels schedule of shows. This works, if you like the channel and like the offerings they have in their current schedule. But what if you don't? What if you only want to watch a few shows or events, and don't care about what else is offered by the channel? What do you do?Well, Comcast and Netflix both provide shows and movies on demand. Some have advertisements for the network that produced the show, but they are pretty much it. The problem with this deployment is timing. The shows are not immediately available when you want them, or the collection of shows may not be complete. Hulu has it's own model of delivery which provides more immediate access to shows, and just the shows you would want. But they also have ads running within the show (much like commercials), and they even run (reportedly) if you have subscribed for Hulu Plus. Both these solutions are great, but you still run into a big problem: What content is going to be available? Not all networks or production houses have signed up for this type of delivery, being worried about their intellectual property.But, if the success of Netflix is any indication, this type of delivery is quite popular. Beyond just the Internet browser, Netflix provides access to it's content with mobile apps and set top devices, making it a viable replacement for cable. And what's more, content can be provided on a per-show basis, instead of per channel or per provider. That, in my personal opinion, is the most compelling reason why Netflix is so successful. So what is the future of television? Set top devices, many of which you would get for something else (gaming systems, streaming devices, etc.), that provide access per content for a subscription fee. I don't see per show or even per season working too well. iTunes has had that for quite some time, and it doesn't seem to be taking off. But a subscription that allows access to all the content you want for a low monthly fee is very attractive. Add to that the ability to watch it on your big screen, and you have a very compelling offering.So, in my personal opinion, I think cable companies will become Internet providers in the long term, network television will be relegated to the free over-the-air channels (until local news becomes part of a streaming service too), and most people will be able to watch what they want when they want, on their own schedule. But what do you think? Do you think this is viable? Why or why not?