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. identicon
    Beruda, 24 Jun 2009 @ 10:05am

    Comcast should have never started hulu before they figured out
    how much access ppl would have and for what amount. To me the problem is not enough forethought and no clear plan. hulu could offer programing before a given date for free but charge a fee for more recent content and leave the latest content (movies and such for their cable subscribers). They could even (but won't) decrease their customers cable bills due to the increased revenue. Something like that might work.

    Why bother to offer free programing if your only going to take it away later, it doesn't make any sense. Do they think ppl are so hooked that they will pay to keep it? I like hulu but believe me I can live without it no problem.

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