The Future of Television

Today Netflix announced that they will be delivering an exclusive television series to Netflix subscribers in 2012. And, even better, it is not some no-name TV show. It's going to be called "House of Cards" and will feature Kevin Spacey as a lead actor. Guess who is the executive producer too? David Fincher. The show will be available to any device that can stream Netflix. Presumably, at a given time every week.

So, let's get this straight: you'll be watching a first run episode that no one has ever seen (so in a sense, live) from any device anywhere. It's like HBO, without having to go through a cable provider. And available to you when you're on vacation.

My point: isn't this exactly what television in 2011 should be like? I think we are becoming one step closer to getting rid of cable providers.

I've been thinking for awhile about how far we are away from completely Internet based TV. Even as it is now, I watch shows the day after with Hulu for the iPad hooked up to the TV via HDMI. I use the Apple TV to stream podcasts and YouTube to the television. We use Netflix to watch movies if we have a free night (don't remember when the last time that was...), also via Apple TV and the Wii. I use the MLB app for the iPad and Apple TV to watch any Major League Baseball game whenever. As of late too, I've been using the March Madness app for the iPad connected to the TV to watch tournament games that we don't get via cable. The NBA also has this functionality.

Brilliant. Completely brilliant.

I might add as well that because we don't have HD programming here, the quality is better via Apple TV and the iPad than it is via our cable provider.

I rarely use our TiVo anymore.

It is, and will continue to be, easier to break off from the cable provider.

As I see it, the only real issue (other than HBO shows and shows like Mad Men...none of which I watch) with this model is ESPN. Major League Baseball is going straight to their customers. You subscribe by the month and can watch any game whenever you want, get a radio feed whenever you want, AND watch a broadcast from either team's home commentators whenever you want. In an area like we live in with no teams close by, this is an absolute must for a baseball fan.

If ESPN sold their programming through a subscription to their customers, wouldn't you buy it? Then you could use any device whenever (including those hooked up to your television) you want to watch ESPN. I have a feeling if this became competitive (rather than monopolistic companies that are the only ones who serve your area controlling your programming, etc) it would drive the prices down. It would cut out the middle man between the channel that offers the programming and the consumer.

That model is always a better model. I'd much rather subscribe to NBC, CBS, ABC (or even better...specific shows) directly than pay a cable provider a ton of money each month for a bunch of crap that I don't watch.

I only hope the channels and producers see this. Huge opportunities are ahead of us.

This happened in music with iTunes and later Amazon. The customer of the labels was not the retailer, as they often was the listener. This has happened more or less in news publications since its conception. This needs to happen in movies (although the movie theater experience inherently means this may be impossible) and I definitely think it is about to happen in TV.

Congrats Netflix, I'm going to give "House of Cards" a try.