posts about or somewhat related to ‘cable’
“Cut the cord” has become the rallying cry for those interested in abandoning cable television in favor of streaming online video to their phones, tablets, desktops and – forsooth! – televisions.
It’s an apt phrase, not merely for its echoes of severing the umbilical cord in the delivery room but for its metaphoric reach into that almond-shaped space in the Venn diagram between baptismal rebirth and outright renaissance.
There are variations, of course. Google indicates that “cut the cable” is a fraternal twin. It also brings up a blogger who simply calls himself “John,” who launched Cut-the-Cable.com two years ago. John matter-of-factly identifies his online effort as “the anti-COMCAST blog and resource site” and admits to having a “chip on my shoulder” due to the layoff that affords him the free time to take on the “fat bastards,” which presumably no longer fits his budget. Though his posts are sporadic, they are typically vitriolic and directed at discrediting and defaming the cable giant. Among them is a relatively recent analysis of a Houston news site story headlined “Comcast Contractor Accused of Raping a Child,” replete with a mug shot.
Whether or not John’s informative if pungent tirades are justified (and they are to anyone who has ever made a phone call to Comcast’s customer service), they’re a bellwether of sorts and he’s not alone. Crystal Collins, the discount doyenne behind TheThriftyMama.com, doesn’t cast cable providers as evildoers, she does provide a gleeful step-by-step guide to cutting the cable, which, depending on your cable consumption needs, she claims can save one upwards of $600 a year. Lifehacker.com also show how to slice and dice one’s media diet, with additional info on where to stream your favorite live television feed.
With all this blogging and flogging of cable companies, cutting their core product might seem to be grassroots movement. However, one should keep in mind the fact that broadcast networks themselves have stoked much of the fervor by streaming their content directly to consumers via their respective websites, effectively sidestepping cable – their one-time rival turned overlord (adjust a pair of rabbit ears lately? Yeah, didn’t think so).
Moreover, Hulu is a consortium of a several networks – NBC, itself owns over a 30 percent stake. This is ironic given the fact that Comcast now owns NBCUniversal (the merged version of the network and the studio). However, the Department of Justice mandated as part of Comcast’s acquisition, it “must relinquish its management rights in Hulu” lest it “interfere with the management of Hulu, and, in particular, the development of products that compete with Comcast’s video service.”
Comcast isn’t crying since they dominate much of the broadband market (at least locally). To wit, the cable behemoth still profits by the umbilical link through which the data that is, say, Parks and Recreation, comes tumbling. In fact, it’s a completely vertically-integrated strategy. The revolution is being televised on the Internet, brought to you by the very entity against which you’re in revolt. Sort of like cutting off cable’s nose to stream its face.
Former Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell was named head of the leading cable TV trade association.
Via LA Times:
Powell will become president and chief executive officer of the National Cable and Telecommunications Assn., taking on the role of “the cable industry’s leading advocate, spokesman, and representative in its relationship with the U.S. Congress, the administration, the FCC, and other federal agencies,” the group said Tuesday in a news release…
…He left the FCC in 2005 after more than seven years as a commissioner, including a controversial four-year tenure as chairman. Powell led an aggressive crackdown on over-the-air obscenities while at the same time pushing to scale back the government’s role in the telecommunications industry. He championed a loosening of media ownership rules that was later struck down by the courts.
Takeaway, Part I: The more things stay the same, the more things stay the same.
Takeaway, Part II: If Network Neutrality is your thing you have a deep insider you’ll be battling against.
GigaOm’s Josh Levy outlines the promise and difficulty Web video is having in the American media landscape.
While writing about how Roku, a set-top box that lets you stream Web video to your television, added Al Jazeera English so that users could watch the Egyptian protests, cable providers are fighting against consumer ability to cut the cord.
Roku’s move was a thrilling taste of what online TV might look like if big cable loses its grip on channels and viewers. Imagine if more channels, sick of waiting in virtual holding pens to be allowed to join cable lineups, instead just joined up with Roku or one of its competitors. And then imagine if viewers followed these channels off the cable reservation, cut their cords and relied solely on little Internet boxes for their TV content.
It would be a shiny future for online video. Except the cable giants won’t stand for it, and are using all their power to stop it: The cords that pipe in your cable TV also deliver the Internet, and big cable is all too eager to exploit that fact, threatening to throttle or block content they don’t like or that competes with them.
Independent online video efforts are running into problems left and right, and the cable giants are trying to stymie them for as long as possible while they test out their “TV Everywhere” offerings — which is their attempt at rolling out online video services without allowing subscribers to “cut the cord.” Thanks to loopholes in a recent FCC decision, there are a number of ways Comcast and friends could degrade or throttle Netflix, Hulu and other channels offered by Roku.
It’s true that with more innovations like Roku’s addition of Al-Jazeera English, the future of online video could be bright. But if big cable succeeds in squashing competition and stifling innovation, it could also get really, really dark.