So we moved to Philadelphia last night and are getting close to kicking our summer off with dreamit ventures. But what is most interesting, the people that we are subletting from have the cable box with all the works (ondemand, dvr, etc, etc). It has been well over a year since I (we) had regular cable. (sidenote: when we set up shop in Brooklyn, we got business class internet, netflix and nothing else).
Now we are trying to find something to watch browsing through a channel guide as well as the on demand content. What is this cable box? It took me 10 minutes to carefully study the remote, orientate myself with all its options and browsing methods. First let’s start with the channel guide. Yeah, there is a listing of all the shows and what network they belong to, but do I care anymore? Plus there are a million new channels that have seem to take category viewing to a quantum level. The worst part is they have now integrated a banner ad into the guide that makes the whole screen refresh when it refreshes. On-demand makes more sense, but the response time on any command is sooo slow. Who would make a device that had such slow rendering time (yeah I know the digital compression, cost savings, etc, etc).
The whole experience reminded my when I was a kid and would go to my grandma’s house and would have to make a phone call. There was the rotary dial phone. You could use it and in the end you did make a call, but your fingers were worse for the wear. I remember asking a family member why grandma still had the rotary phone and was exposed to my first taste of monopoly; the phone company owned the phone and they had no reason to change it.
So here we are today with the same problem. The cable companies own the last mile. Innovation is not a real priority (unless it increases their inventory). So to this meme there was a really nice article in the NYT today – - In the Age of TiVo and Web Video, What Is Prime Time? – a good read.
My favorite was how CW’s big move was to pull episodes from the web to improve their broadcast ratings. I understand their logic, but these clustertards are taking their queues from music execs via 1999. I know so many 20 something’s girls that can hardly cut & paste, but do most of their viewing via their laptop.
Back to point, Mark Cuban (my least favorite internet billionaire boy) wrote an interesting piece last year that the internet is dead — I think he is right in a lot of ways. Possession is 9/10th’s of the law as our schoolyard bully used to say and the cable companies are the ultimate bullies. They’re thinking if they can keep the product just good-enough we are just to lazy to start using the computer as entertainment.
But the argument is in the numbers. As the NYT’s article points out, numbers are way down. Cable companies are content providers and have their ads as part of that inventory. They are going to have to make it up somewhere. In a year or two when things like Hulu really start making a dent are they going to realize they brought the lion into the den.
I hope they wake up and realize they are in competitive environment and that if “content is king” then experience is definitely queen.