Cable Faces Imminent Threat. But Unwashed Masses Too Lazy To Care.

The Wall Street Journal reports that a 100-person Utah company, led by CEO Roxanne Austib, has raised more than $67 million from some prominent backers that include Microsoft Corp., Comcast Corp. and Walt Disney Co.’s venture-capital arm. The goal? Bring television video to homes via the Internet. I know. Crazy, right? What next? A computer in every home?

Move Internet Television: But Moving is Scary. I Like it Here.

If the company pulls it off, you could watch programs via the web, your television-shaped monitor (via a converter box unless it already has an Internet jack or wireless receiver), or via your stupid iPhone or iPad (which some bastard called “the fourth screen” today at a conference, and made my omelette travel back up my throat).

But you won’t.

“…Move isn’t laying cable or launching satellites (so it says it)… can charge consumers far less than traditional pay-television operators for a comparable suite of channels. Move hopes to undercut those operators further by offering a pared-down lineup-perhaps as few as 80 to 100 channels.”

Here’s where it gets interesting. Comcast just launched a service called TV Everywhere that, um, uses Move software to provide its paying prisoners free on-demand access via the web. So will Comcast keep Mmmmoving? Or drop Move like Time Warner dropped its retarded older stepbrother AOL?  I’d expect a bloodbath, and I will enjoy every moment. As the WSJ acknowledged, this “could turn cable providers into little more than utilities, maintaining thousands of miles of dumb pipe-pipe through which Move’s snazzily repackaged TV programming would be flowing.” Say what you will about Comcast, but I don’t think it will become a dumb pipe without a fight.

Would you like to know the very sad “secret weapon” cable maintains? We’re change-adverse, lazy idiots.

He looks like we behave under the trance of lame utility companies.

We take don’t like breaking up with important service providers even when they suck (how many excuses have you used to avoid adopting voice-over-IP?) We default to whatever damned boxes our cable/fiber/phone providers install. The model T Ford comes in black and black. We are statistically proven to prefer the burger with the McDonalds wrapper against the exact same burger wrapped in white paper.

We don’t trust new companies- especially on something important like a utility. What? Clear? Saw them at BestBuy and in lots of newspapers and billboards. But who are they? Verizon’s my phone company. It’s the only one I’m allowed to use. Just like the US Post Office is the only way I can send a letter. Groceries delivered via web order? No I like to smell my canned food before I buy it.

But the TRS-80 Comes With a Tape Recorder AND Basic.

Take TiVo for example. It’s better, but few Comcast or Verizon customers realize they don’t have to put up with the TRS80-like machines the cable/telecom companies issue like obligatory military uniforms. Even better, the AppleTV (for $200) will give you every damned television show or movie you could ever want for a couple bucks and 2 clicks… with no stupid monthly obligation.  Do we buy them? Nope. We’re saving up for an iPad as big as a goitre.

But the Unwashed Masses DO Need Their Fashion Accessories.

So perhaps Move soars over every hurdle and obstacle that cable and telcom companies can lobby into its way. Then it manages to (with a nervous and tempered endorsement from big media and tech players) launch a less expensive, easier, high-quality offering that effectively makes Comcast/Verizon a giant Bill-Murray wielding hose… Some early adopters try it and love it. They tell all their pretend virtual friends. But unless 100% of that $67 million is going into mass advertising, we unwashed masses remain confused, and stick with our drunk & swearing spouses we call cable/telecom. It’s our fault they abuse us.

It's our fault he drinks so much.

Yes, we unwashed masses continue overpaying for never-used cable channels, ignoring the blinking 12:00 on the Betamax, and continue our 45th year of renting standard-issue 30-pound rotary phones for $5 a month from Ma Bell. We unwashed masses already tried your fancy microwave machines and facsimile phones, and that will be enough for now.

The only phone that works with your telcom company. It's not so bad.

11 Replies to “Cable Faces Imminent Threat. But Unwashed Masses Too Lazy To Care.”

  1. I’m baaack….

    While you are correct Kevin, in that we are creatures of habit, sometimes we do overcome that. When the right catalyst comes along, it might push people to give up cable.

    In our house we don’t have cable anymore. Sure part of that is due to the fact that I haven’t had a day job in a year, but besides that, it’s just not needed anymore. There are a number of sites out on the interwebs that will let you watch darn near every major cable network out there for free or cheap, and every local TV station in our area streams the news reports, so we can even watch live local news. And if you don’t mind waiting until tomorrow for your show, hulu or have it there for free too.

    Eventually people will catch on. It’s just going to need a catalyst, and I think that catalyst won’t come until we’re seeing 100 Megabit and higher Internet speeds. The advantage cable has over the internet based channels right now is that there’s no buffer time. You type in the channel and boom, there you are. No waiting, no refreshing if your connection drops out, and no pauses during your show for the buffer to catch back up. When the Internet moves quickly enough that we can have truly near-instant video, I think the scale will tip, and people will in fact leave cable companies. Of course, since the cable companies will own all the copper and most of the fiber that connects America’s internet, they’ll still have a job, so no worries there.

  2. I think we need better broadband infrastructure before TV can migrate successfully to computers.

    I’m stuck with a crappy connection that averages about 15 KB/sec. I’d be willing to pay for higher connection speeds, but my apartment complex has some sort of contract that prevents that.

  3. I still have never used the new Comcast DVR that I am paying for … not even to record the Saints. I shutter to think what I would do without reruns…probably pay four times as much to rent the damned shows at Blockbusters instead of DRIVING through McDonalds to the Redbox and spending $1.

  4. Yeah, what Jim said.

    I have access to cable, but I haven’t bothered to buy a TV since there isn’t enough good stuff for it to be worth it. Even if there were plenty of amazing shows that I would watch, the amount of advertising is absolutely absurd and I sure ain’t gonna pay for TiVo when I could watch the stuff on Hulu for free.

    I’m looking forward to when cable providers do become dumb pipes, accept that role, and start upgrading old copper lines to fiber optics.

  5. My TRaSh80 took 25 minutes to load a a 64k version of Zork from a cassette tape drive. The single sided/single density 360k floppy was $750.00. And a Winchester Hard Disk was just nuts.

    25 minutes not counting the multiple restarts because of a miss-adjusted volume control resulting in syntax error number 23 at line 104 and such. It was cool and exhilarating and very geek intensive.

    So why wouldn’t I watch TV on my computer?

  6. So your comments just made me realize that Cable/Telcom actually has a disincentive to speed up web service to facilitate TV-via-web, which could undermine ’em.

  7. This is one of the reasons Google is pushing the conversation with their new project for fiber optic pipes that will result in HUGE jumps in data transfer speeds.
    They’re talking 1Gigabit per second??????

  8. Yo bitches… I read the Wall Street Journal while taking a dump. Actually I read it on the BART, but it often smells like poo on the BART so at times I think I’m in the toilet.

  9. More money to be made via cableTV than Internet right now. A nice steady income.

    Outside of business, which is dying in the US, tech savvy people know how to get stuff for free or cheap.

    Cable is a cash cow, it caters to the the lazy, ignorant, and way too busy making ends meet to bother.

    Further, there’s too much to protect. Show something on cable and there’s a guaranteed rate of payment – on the net, with a good connection ($20-$30 per months), it’s all you can eat for ten bucks more a month – i.e. netflix – not to mention free bit torrent, youtube, google, et al

    But, the future is uncertain, sorta…

    Outside of the die-hard fans who sit in front of the TV Tuesdays at 8:00/7:00c on ABC people have better things to do and willing to TIVO/VCR or wait for the DVD and with Hulu, DL, YT, or type watch (name) on google.

    There’s also more information available now than ever before; more than most people can handle or digest.

    Iran has 13 total TV stations and they are in the middle of an uprising – Imagine if we had cableTV or the net in the 1960s, everyone would have stayed home, like now.

    Some might say, we’ve been dumbed down, others, an enlightened public. Probably a little of both, it’s only a matter of which way the scale is tipping at the time that puts a little more cash in your pocket or Wall Streets.

    It’s the book on a desert island question.

    Humans are remarkable at adapting – they’ll spend or cut their budgets to fit anything as long as they have one thing – the world greatest invention, what nutcheese refers to in every one of her posts, Indoor Plumbing.

    As long as that’s working the unwashed masses will be washed and happy campers.

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