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
    elvenrunelord, 24 Jun 2009 @ 12:04pm


    I have been very active in telling these companies what i want.

    For instance I wrote a letter to NBC yesterday complaining about their direct player continuing to upload data to the p2p network after I had shut the player down, thus eating up my upload bandwidth...which is much more scarce that my download bandwidth and slows my working software down greatly.

    Luckily I found the names of the processes doing this and killed them easily enough.

    I have repeatedly told virtually ever network I watch that I no longer watch regular television and why. Regular television has too many commercials, and is not on demand. with the many things available for me to do at virtually any time of day, tv not only has to compete against other networks, it has to compete against other hobbies and time consumers as well. To successfully do that they must position themselves to be used when I want, at a cost I want, and in the way I want.

    I have repeatedly said that I would be willing to pay a nominal fee for true HD broadcasts available for download and viewing. My connection is not and probably will not be able to handle true 1080p broadcasts for perhaps another 5-7 years in this area, so queing up downloads while I am busy or sleeping is something I would need rather than streaming.

    The pricing structure I am looking for is pretty simple. I want access to the complete list of media content, past and present for a set price per month, no more than $10-$15 a month because I know they get plenty of money from advertisers. No more of the 5-6 commercials during commercial breaks. After about 15 seconds you loose my interest and eyeballs anyway, so one commercial per break is about all that is worth anything to anybody. This means your gonna have to increase the cost of advertising which would be a good thing. way to much garbage I would never purchase is advertised to me as it is.

    The content I download needs to be able to be transferred to my laptop or future cellphone equipped with a beamer and can be viewed without being hooked to the internet. Quit worrying about DRM so much and roll out a model that makes it so easy people will forget about piracy and your piracy problem will be solved.

    I've also let them know I am one of the money demographic as well. The money demographic is those with usable income, average age of 41-65. And I have also let them know I am teaching all my middle age friends about internet TV and the benefits it offers us so we can spend more time with our family and friends during the primetime of the day rather than stuck in front of a boobtube in the eary evenings and night time, because of on demand viewing.

    I've explained to them why on demand viewing on the internet is not a value added service worth paying more because that is just how the internet works.....its always on demand and they understand and have indicated they do not wish to pay more or even close to the current pricing models because they understand just how much easier and profitable it is to send data over the net verses the massive upkeep of regular tv transmission. They understand the companies can lower their prices and still keep a comfortable profit ratio and see that competition will insure this happens unless legislation gets in the way of this and are determined to see that not happen by holding their elected officials accountable to the will of the people, not the will of corporations.

    Do you guys understand what you need to be telling these people so they will understand it in a way they know about? This is the information they pay survey companies to find for them, yet it is delivered to them in a grassroots manner that does not allow for an opinion to shaped by asking pointed questions with limited answers.

    True grassroots movements start with one person, yourselves. Companies really need to hear what you have to say and for the most part they only do that when you complain, so complain in an effective manner and you will start to see change you though of and started the ball rolling on.

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