For some time, I’ve been noting on my Twitter account the rising tide of people who have decided to cut the cord that ties them to servicing their television needs through cable, satellite or other wired means, instead turning to the Internet to be informed and entertained. The topic is blowing up now, with Washington Post tech columnist Mike Musgrove now examining the issue in his column this past weekend (“TV Breaks Out of the Box“).
And I don’t even really need to respond, because Adam Thierer has given it the one-two punch at Tech Liberation Front.
But if you want my take on the cost-savings of broadband video, refer to these earlier posts:
- The Roles of TV and the Internet
- Does A La Carte Always Make Sense?
- More Media Inaccuracies About A La Carte
On a related note, TV Week‘s Daisy Whitney writes about using the Boxee service to watch Internet video on her television, as part of a cable-free experiment she’s conducting.
The Golden Swamp blog comments on Musgrove’s column by noting that more people watched Tina Fey’s portrayal of Sarah Palin online than on television, and suggests than one could then unbundle one chunk of content (such as a Palin skit) from an entire television episode (a 90-minute SNL). Judy Breck is using this approach to propose unbundling educational resources; others have applauded the ability of iTunes to allow you to buy just the songs you want instead of the whole album (David Lazarus called it the “iPod factor.”).
But as I have written on this blog in regards to “a la carte,” the economics may not pay off. If you unbundle one cable network from others, the economics change. Unbundle one show from a network, they change again. Unbundle a segment from the show, again. That’s not to say that cable networks don’t or shouldn’t repurpose content. Comedy Central puts entire episodes of The Daily Show online for free. Some cable networks make content available to mobile subscribers or put clips on their websites. I’m simply offering a reminder that there are different approaches and different business models; not everything you want may be available on the platform you want and in the manner you want.
But things change and nothing is permenant. Stay tuned.