Comcast And Time Warner Team Up To Control What TV You Watch Online

from the consumers-anyone? dept

There's certainly been plenty of talk lately about how efforts like Hulu to move television shows online could undermine the television industry as people start to realize that they don't need to pay gobs of money to a monopoly cable provider (other than maybe for broadband). The TV content folks believe this is a problem as well, because the cable companies currently pay them corporate-sized gobs of money for the rights to offer their channels to end customers. This leads to regular fights between cable companies and content providers -- but neither really want to see that old system go away. The cable companies want end users to keep paying monopoly-inflated gobs of money, and the content creators want that hefty check from the cable companies.

So, it was no surprise back in February to hear of plans to make agreements between cable companies and content providers that would limit what kind of video you could watch online, requiring you to be a cable company subscriber and "authenticating" what you could watch. Thus, it should be no surprise that Comcast and Time Warner are now announcing exactly that.

This should raise all sorts of antitrust concerns. First, you've got industry execs working together to limit consumer choice, and these industry execs already have quasi-monopolies in certain regions. And they're doing this to keep prices high against competition from the internet. Doesn't that seem like a problem?

The real issue, of course, is that the equation is (as it so often is with such companies) backwards. Rather than embracing what the internet allows these companies to do, they're trying to remove that ability, and make it act like good old television, with those good old revenue streams -- and, amusingly, claim it's "the future of television." Not even close. It's television's past, with an attempt to move it to the internet without any real advantages. As Om Malik points out in the link above: "The deal makes it painfully obvious that everything cable companies do... is done to save their video franchises." It's not about looking forward. It's about preserving the past.

Filed Under: cable companies, online video
Companies: comcast, time warner cable


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  1. icon
    R. Miles (profile), 24 Jun 2009 @ 6:02am

    Re: *yawn*

    (Fair warning: I work for Comcast.)
    As what, the janitor? The rhetoric you just spewed indicates you hold no executive position, peon.

    Buzz off, you're lucky I'm not turning off my hose too.
    No, just charging people to turn on the tap, provide a hose, over-inflated the cost of water, and limiting the amount of water to customers.

    Now, it seems these companies are going to put a splitter on the tap and charge, yet again, for the other connection to deliver content.

    I'm often criticized for using the word "greed", but I now expect these same people to clearly tell me why this set up isn't defined as greed. Enlighten me.

    Also note, I've heard rumblings about "cable authentication" in regard to content cable companies don't even deliver to paying customers. Luckily, they're just rumblings and nothing more.

    Yet.

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