Internet TV is Coming

zinc-main-screen-1By: Billy BeerSlugger

So both Apple and Google will release set top boxes for your television and my educated guess is that in the next year or so that some new HDTV’s will come pre-loaded with some sort of standard interface whether it be a web browser or operating system like iOS or Android. That being said I wouldn’t rush to grab any of these devices before a lot of the kinks are worked out: namely access to content.

I have long been a proponent of ditching cable for the internet and absolutely think that all meaningful communication will occur over the internet. All of the technology is there for nerds like me to hook up my laptop to my TV and be able to essentially watch anything on my hard drive as well as any content available via the web like YouTube, Hulu and Netflix. I could take it a step further and turn a cheap computer into a dedicated media and internet player like Boxee. There’s actually a bunch of different ways to consume internet content from your living room TV though nothing your grandmother would be able to figure out how to put together.

However, for this whole internet TV thing to really take off and overthrow the Goliath cable companies, the content that is licensed to these Cable companies, more specifically the channels themselves will have to be ported to the internet as well. What does that mean? Well my take is that it means one of two things:

  1. You could pay for each channel you want individually from the channel or owner itself and install some sort of widget/application which when clicked on your internet TV opens the channel for viewing.
  2. There would be some paywall to content on the internet just like there is with Cable/Satellite TV now.

One, I don’t think it is logical or plausible that each individual channel or ownership group of channels would want to get into dealing with the customer service aspect of payments, service shut offs and turn ons. I think they want to stay exactly where they are and do what they are good at: making content and grabbing a per-subscriber fee.

Two, I think there will eventually be a kind of Cable Company for most internet content in terms of broadcast and cable TV. I’m not sure if that is going to come from an existing cable company, a merger of companies or a new company but that is the best way I see it happening at least in terms of the content that is currently on cable/satellite right now.

So while it’s likely that there will be some sort of middle man in terms of traditional TV channel content and probably the companies holding onto the current contracts for the right to broadcast these channels and content will these companies want to crush their current cash cows and take everything to the internet right away? My guess is no. Traditional Cable/Satellite TV is not going anywhere too fast. They have too much money to throw around, too much money invested in their current business model and too much of a monopoly on content.

So yes, you will see a more progressive exodus of the general public from watching cable TV in their living rooms to watching content via the internet in their living rooms but it won’t go mainstream until TV manufacturers start putting wi-fi or Ethernet jacks standard into new TV’s and certainly some sort of breakthrough in terms of cable licensing their channels to broadcast over the internet. Internet TV is coming to the mainstream, just not as soon as you might hope.

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