The TV Revolution Will Be Streamed

I’ve had a Google TV for about 12 months now. For most consumers- YouTube, Netflix, Pandora, and other media applications look/sound great on the best screen/speakers in the average household, the living room, which is the next major battlefield in Tech. However, many of the popular shows from FOX, ABC, NBC, and Disney that are available for online streaming on computers are specifically blocked on Google TV and other TV sets, essentially putting up a walled garden around their content. Apple is reportedly similar hurdles negotiating contracts for its rumored iTV. Despite these challenges, I’m predicting consumers will eventually pay only for the individual shows/games & seasons they want. This is similar to the a la carte on-demand model iTunes pioneered with music in 2001 when the iPod came out. Back then, music piracy was the catalyst for record labels to partner with Apple. Now with TV, “cord-cutting” will be the driving force for such partnerships. Cable subscribers are bailing in favor of streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. Netflix just announced it streamed over 2 billion hours to 20 million customers last holiday quarter. In parallel, Time Warner Cable recently reported losing 128,000 home video subscribers, and The DISH Network said goodbye to 111,000 net subscribers last quarter, far worse than the 29,000 lost the prior year.

I believe there are three key trends in the consumer market that will make this all possible:

  1. Constant high-speed connectivity: mobile networks like 4G, 5G, improved WiMax.
  2. Cheaper higher-performant cloud computing to process and store all your content.
  3. Mobile device proliferation enabling streaming from anywhere (smartphones, tablets, and eventually E-INK!).

When these occur, the cable networks will have no other choice but to cut down their walled garden. At that point, I believe, we’ll see new innovative “TV” start-ups disrupt TV media in similar ways we saw Pandora, Rdio,, and Spotify changed the way we discover, share, and consume music legally. Ultimately, it will be a great time for the consumer who will stop paying hundreds of dollars for “bundle” cable packages, and start enjoying better price points for only the content they want, when convenient, from any location, on their preferred device.

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