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
    Mike Moreno, 28 Jun 2009 @ 3:50pm

    Total Monopoly

    I just read a Wall Street Journal article that was very enlightening. Basically, Jeffrey Bewkes from Time Warner wants it ALL! Sure, maybe you don't want to pay the >$100/month to get cable/internet/phone but guess what... Mr Bewkes is going to MAKE YOU pay that much if you want to watch your TV show or sporting event. I remember a time when I could watch quality content on 4 channels. Mr Bewkes wants me to pay over $100/month to get a whole bunch of channels that doesn't even have close to the same level of quality content that I could get on 4 channels back in the 80s. What's wrong with this picture?? Just say no to this Monopoly and boycott their premium service!

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