Internet TV is threatening to turn cable TV’s subscription model on its head with on demand programming and rentals, but there is a key component that’s missing: content discovery. There is still no better way to find out what’s on than to flip through channels.
Apple TV, the Boxee Box, Google TV, Hulu, Roku, and a sundry of desktop (and now mobile) applications comprise a compelling alternative to traditional cable TV service. My colleague Harry McCracken has them all pretty well covered.
I know many people who have “unplugged” themselves from the shackles of costly year-long contracts. Why pay for channels that you don’t watch? Those people are typically more technically savvy than most of the population. I just recently upgraded my mother’s 1980s big screen TV to an HDTV.
My mother and I find what’s on TV in much the same way: we channel surf or use a “guide.” There are more than a few shows that drew me in by happenstance. AMC’s “Breaking Bad” is my favorite “accident.” Internet TV is surfing with a net, keeping us in the familiar, and not venturing out into the unexplored.
Sure, Internet TV has media guides that showcase featured content, but where does that leave programs that aren’t already in the spotlight? Would Internet TV allow me to stumble onto a “Twilight Zone” rerun at 3 AM? Sometimes randomness is nice – I don’t always like to know exactly what I’m looking for.
Internet TV is better suited for enabling a user to watch what they want when they want. I’m keeping my cable, but will be buying a Boxee Box as an alternative to Time Warner Cable’s on-demand services.