Boxee, makers of software powering digital media streaming boxes
and computers, recently launched a campaign that seemingly encourages folks to “cut the cord” (and find fulfillment via their new Live TV USB dongle):
Yes, there are hundreds of cable channels, but make a list of the stuff you actually watch. You will probably find that most are on broadcast and the rest are available on Vudu/Netflix/Network sites. What is left on your list? Is it really worth $85 a month? We believe the combination of Netflix/Vudu/Vimeo/TED/etc. with over-the-air channels delivers a much better experience for less money.
Let’s skip for a moment the fact that most modern televisions tune over-the-air HD broadcasts and so Boxee’s cost “savings” pitch fails to incorporate their hardware fees. Instead, we’d rather focus on Boxee’s spat with the cable industry. And the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) takes issue with Boxee’s possible hypocrisy:
Instead of telling regulators that its service is a replacement for pay TV service, they now seem to be saying that their service is dependent on subscription TV and that regulators must… wait for it… dictate how cable service is delivered to its customers. Yes, that is correct. This cord-cutting, end-of-cable-as-we-know-it dynamo is demanding that the FCC not allow cable systems to scramble its basic service tier
Of course this is the sort of response we should expect from the cable lobbying organization… and it’s fairly common to see companies simultaneously marketing multiple demographics. Further, Boxee does make a point. Is there a reason basic cable needs to be encrypted – other than the cablecos’ desire to ineffectively protect content, prevent splitting cable, and sell pay per view? Look, I don’t want to cut the cord. I want to cut the inconvenience. And there are too many hoops. This may be The Golden Age of CableCARD but, man, can it be brutal. Wouldn’t it be grand if we could simply plug the coax directly into a television or third party retail set-top box without acquiring and hopefully pairing a CableCARD? Like we did in prior decades.
There’s a new generation coming up that believes content is freely acquired via the Internet. And I imagine it’s in the best interest of both the NCTA and consumer electronics companies, like Boxee or TiVo, to work together to advance their respective causes rather than carry on with this feigned outrage and misguided protectionism.