Here’s a link to an interesting article from Ad Age Magazine. The CEO of Time Warner, Jeff Bewkes, want users who access TV content online to prove that they are cable subscribers. Buwhahahaha!!! I guess he sees the writing on the wall as a middle man between customers and content producers. As usual, it’s a fight about how gets the ad and the subscription money — the content producer, the content provider, or the Internet Service Provider. Personally, I see no point for cable to do anything more than provide a content “pipe” into my house. I pay for that pipe just like any other utility and get what I want from it. As for paying specifically for content, I’m a little confused. We currently pay a subscription fee to Tivo and Netflix to watch content when we want to. My husband is currently watching “Jericho” as a video stream from Netflix. It’s convenient for him and he doesn’t have to deal with commercials. But that’s beside the point. I imagine, currently, many people get broadband access through their cable provider, so why add the extra layer of authentication? If a person drops their cable service but keeps broadband … so what? It just means that the cable companies are no longer “double dipping.” In theory, if cable providers only provided the pipe, then they could quit serving up cable tv in general and let the content producers figure out how they want to generate revenue. It seems to me to be a logical simplification.
On the other hand, let’s consider how many people are gonna give up cable in general to watch things on the small screen. Not everyone is tech savvy enough to pipe content from their computers to their big screen tv. I think for the most part, watching via a computer is a singular experience, whereas you watching the big tv in a group. Until the tv and computer become one with a simple interface to access content from the internet, I think Bewkes is barking up the wrong tree because people are gonna view via the both small screen and the large screen. The proper move to make is to develop that technology that joins TV, the PC, and Internet and to charge for that convenience to both the customer and the content provider — “TV Everywhere + Any Content.” With respect to Bittorrent … well, content providers should put out their own Bittorrents and high quality streams of a show in a convenient location and either charge a “reasonable” fee to watch the show or make people watch commercials (or maybe forward the trend of incorporating product placements into the shows). Either way, the only way to beat pirates is to join ’em ;p. I will say this though, as this economy tightens, and money tightens, the urge to kill cable and just go broadband is strong.