HomeBlogCable TV a Thing of the Past

Traditional Cable TV is a Thing of the Past

Published December 11, 2009

The primitive content delivery system known as "Cable TV" or "Satellite TV" won't exist in 5 years. Paid television service over-the-wire is now almost exactly like what America Online was for the internet in the late nineties when high-speed internet was becoming widely available. How will we watch shows like The Office or Family Guy, you ask? On a computer of course, like this couple is doing as reported in the New York Times.

With more and more traditional television and movie programs being made available for viewing on a computer connected to the internet (via websites like Hulu, Netflix, iTunes, and even YouTube), that little box hooked up to your television that might cost you $50 or $60 a month is becoming kind of pointless. And if you think about it, is that little box really anything more than a little computer with a remote control, hooked up to a coaxial connection that provides digital data? I'm talking about ones and zeroes here!

The providers -- Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner, Cox, Charter, DirecTV, Dish Network, etc -- know this. The data connection that provides your television with all your favorite bumbling shows is the same connection that sends you your Facebook photos, Twitter updates, and YouTube favorites. AOL kept pushing their service for years after almost everyone had broadband internet from another company -- how the heck DID they keep customers anyway? Similarly, the TV providers will continue to squeeze every buck out of viewers with endless advertising and "package deals", the rates of which likely increase when the "promotional period" ends.

Perhaps the biggest drawback of traditional TV is its scheduled programming -- shows run on a set schedule that you have no control over. Things like Tivo and video recording devices (DVR) have alleviated some of the problems, allowing you to watch whatever you want, whenever you want, after some time spent configuring.  Content on the internet is always on demand. You want it? Click, and you've got it.

However, there are still some drawbacks in replacing your cable box with a computer:

  • You might not know how to hook up your computer to your TV.
  • If you own a regular TV (not an HDTV), while the resulting video will look fine, navigating through pages on the provider's website may be blurry or hard to read.
  • Some programs are not available yet over the internet -- mainly sporting events, which generate the biggest profits.
  • You might not have the right accessories for surfing the web comfortably in your living room -- wireless mouse, keyboard, wireless internet.

These drawbacks are quickly fading away. All that's needed now is for someone to put together an all-in-one compact system (read: mini computer), that customers just buy, plug in to their TV using a single HDMI plug, and in minutes they'll be accessing all the content they want. Actually, a Mac Mini would work well for this.

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Michael Butler

Michael joined the RustyBrick team in 2008 to focus on transitioning existing web sites to new & enhanced platforms. He graduated from Rutgers University in 2005 and holds a B.S. in Computer Science.

This article is under Geek Factor, Computer Networking

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