Can You Cut The Cable?

You hear a lot of talk these days about people “cutting the cord” and going without cable TV. It’s enough to make you think that television will soon be completely replaced by the internet. A few things have happened recently that make me think that the doomsayers may be a little premature, however. There is no doubt that the landscape is changing, but it looks like it may be more of a shift than a transformation.

Recently, one of the huge movie studios began discussing a plan to offer brand new movies via On Demand the same day they debut in theaters. They will be expensive – perhaps $50 or more – but if you invite all of your friends over, it’s a bargain. As part of this initiative, this huge movie studio also implied that it might hold these movies back from distributors like Netflix for an additional 30 days or so.

Why would the studio need this extra large “window?” Because they are considering ways of allowing viewers to download the movies directly from the studio – or least in a way that makes the studio more money.

In the past few months, TV networks have taken the same kind of DIY attitude. They are allowing fewer and fewer “free” views of their programming, realizing that Netflix, Hulu and iTunes are proving that people will indeed pay to rent their shows. Why let those intermediaries take a cut when they can deliver the content (and reap the rewards) themselves?

That kind of thinking means that video on the internet is going to get better – but also more expensive or more ad-supported, one of the two. Either way, it’s a pretty clear direction for an industry that seemed rudder-less just a few years ago. While I used to think that sooner or later cable TV would be replaced by the internet, it’s starting to look more and more like cable TV is going to take over the internet! Think of it as “Cable TV 2.0” – interactive, customizable and filled with promotional opportunities, some good, some bad. The cable company will still charge you for broadband access (and trust me, you’re going to need those 1GB networks they are building), but after that you can use the pipe for whatever you want.

I’m just predicting that you’re still going to want to watch TV on it anyway.