As a follow up to the failure of CableCARD and customer service post, I’m back in business. Cox Communications reps continued to reach out yesterday, but I was frustrated and beat down – and not interested in providing any more explanations of the issue or facilitating additional troubleshooting. So they went about resolving the situation on their end. Not sure what was done, but my entire channel lineup is now available on the TiVo Premiere (with it’s own set of issues that we’ll get to). Which dovetails nicely with the question of cutting the cord…
As attractive as it may seem to dump the cable co, it’s not really an option in our household. We enjoy our premium TV. And we enjoy the (usual) simplicity of our setup. There’s no question that over-the-top video is now everywhere. And expanding. Yet, the selection remains unpredictable. As does the quality of content and delivery. (Low-res Alf reruns on Hulu entertain for all of ten minutes. OK, maybe 20, Mr. Shumway.) However, there are options… for tech enthusiasts like us. But for most folks, beyond STBs with integrated Netflix or YouTube streaming, Internet-sourced content in a lean-back environment is a mystery.
At the recent SXSW Avner Ronen / Mark Cuban throwdown, Mark proclaimed that the future of TV is TV. Now I occasionally enjoy ribbing Cuban (sorry!) after events and statements like these, reminding him that he’s got a voice in this industry… because he made a boatload of cash from an Internet content distribution business back in the day. But, in the near term, he’s absolutely right. Distribution methods are evolving, perhaps the economics too, but we’re not going to see the revolution Boxee is probably banking on anytime soon. (Which is why I would so love it if they’d add an ATSC tuner and DVR capabilities to the upcoming Boxee Box.)
The only provider that could possibly and significantly move the needle in the next 18 months is ESPN. IF they chose to take their primary offering (not ESPN 360, err ESPN 3) to the cloud. But given their studio-ownership and lucrative distribution deals with the cable and satellite providers, why would they want to?
The good news for all of us is that there are those willing to cut the cable. And there are people who “watch TV” on a computer. It’s sort of a catch-22 at the moment, but this trend should speed deployment of alternate entertainment options. In turn, this would put pressure on the premium television providers to produce a compelling and competitive product. Maybe, just maybe, even leading to à la carte offerings. One can dream.