Internet TV, I'm waiting for you


I'm an earlier adopter with my mythTV box and fast connection. But I'm really keen to see the move to getting TV shows over IP. Cable's bulk pricing just isn't doing it for me any more.

I get many shows now via broadcast digital TV, and while I think this is a giant waste of spectrum, while it's there I will certainly use it. So I've started examining just how much I get from my cable. Of course your tastes will vary, but I find I'm starting to care about only 3 or 4 channels. And since I'm paying $45/month plus tax for expanded basic cable from Comcast, that's a great deal of money per channel. Those channels would be wise to start becoming available over the net, because we early adopters will pay nice prices compared to what the cable companies are paying.

The key is that with the MythTV or other DVR, you stop channel surfing. You pick the programs you like, and it records all of them and you don't watch random shows. (Except for Tivo-style "suggestions.")

Even though you limit your TV to just a subset of shows, you quickly are surprised to change the "500 channels and nothing on" problem into "just a few shows and always something good ready to watch." Surfing and deliberate watching are just that different.

So the shows on cable I'm watching are the Daily Show (and somtimes a few other Comedy Central programs), some SF shows on the Sci-Fi Channel, and Mythbusters on the Discovery Channel. Then, during certain events, I will go to the 24 hour news channels, the only things I ever find myself watching live. (Read on...) <!..break..> Now news, as it turns out, is the one thing that makes sense to be broadcast. It's the only thing (along with its cousin, sports) we all want to watch the moment it's produced. For the rest the delayed gratification of TV over IP, or even DVD rental through the mail, is just fine.

And indeed, the SF shows and Mythbusters will all appear on DVD 1-2 years after airing. The Daily Show is making itself available via the non-linux streaming media formats in reduced resolution, so it's not quite ready for me, and it, as a form of news, needs to get to me right away. (The Daily show is on over the air TV in Canada.)

The TV shows on DVD are much better quality than analog broadcast, and of course inherently commercial free. They're not HD yet, though. And the pointless delay, even though they get more money from people who buy or even rent DVDs than they do from advertisers at broadcast time. There is a 24 hour news channel made by ABC available over the air here.

The point is, if I could get my Daily Show in good quality and a format I can play on my system, I think I would be ready to drop my cable. The rest of my non-network watching would be on DVDs and the other brave shows willing to deliver to me this way, at a fair price -- $1/hour for two adults, commercial free, if I buy in bulk. That would leave me without CNN, though the web is mostly substituting for that now, breaking news even faster than it does.

Of course there are people who watch shows from large numbers of channels who love the big bundling. They will hate this idea. But I expect most DVR users are seeing the number of non-network channels they watch drop, and the economics are changing.

(There are some intermediate alternatives. Dish Network has a $27/month package with the channels I want. Sadly, satellite systems don't interface nearly as well with digital video recorders as analog cable does. Starchoice has a $20 CDN package but it has few of the classic cable channels, though it does provide The Daily Show, the Colbert Report, a couple of 24 hour news and lots of Canadian shows. About $18 USD after taxes.)


I have a satellite cable setup (DirectTV) and a DVR+recordable DVD.
IMHO, it's the best of both worlds, and would certainly beat the $1/hour price (not achieve with current pay-per-view).

I too am restricted in my interests, not the Daily Show but history channel... and about 10 other occasional 'usual suspects' (A&E, TCM, Discovery, NatGeographic, FoxNews, PBS, BBC America, comedy central) that are obsure and different enough (along with the kids wanting Boom or PBSKids) that it would be a rather large set of channels that we would want. No I dont want My MTV anymore, but I get it and a lot of other cruft in my 100+ channels for $45 in order to get a wide enough selection. And with the DVR+DVD, it can be when I want it and recorded for posterity if need be.

"Of course there are people who watch shows from large numbers of channels who love the big bundling. They will hate this idea. But I expect most DVR users are seeing the number of non-network channels they watch drop, and the economics are changing."

I dont watch that many channels but I also dont think the economics and technicals of 'a la carte' would work for most.

The way I look at it, the ideal would like a set of TV channel 'feeds' that you would subscribe to, taped directly to your expansive hard drive, for later on-demand viewing. The content providers will prefer the ease of bundling and the consumers will prefer the convenience of choice, even if it is not fully utilized.

I have not seen the stats but obviously nobody watches all 100 (or whatever channels) in a cable or satellite bundle, and they are priced to reflect that. If you are an average consumer you are probaby getting a decent deal with the bundle. If you are a varacious consumer (perhaps watches 20 channels) you are getting subsidized by the light users such as myself.

At least that's how it would be in a more competitive market. In such a market you would figure out how many channels the typical person really wants, and how much you would get for that, and you give him a whole lot more channels (including mostly ones he doesn't want but a couple he might) and charge just a bit more, and most people are happy, especially the people with above average needs.

The point of my posting was not a rant about bundling and its good and evils. The point was that DVR watching changes the economic points that make sense for bundling. Because as a DVR user I never surf, a lot of the value of the bundle is lost on me. If you surf, then you want a large bundle to assure that when you sit down at the TV, there will be something on you want. As a DVR user, you don't care. You care only about getting your specific set of shows, though of course you also want the ability to get other shows from time to time, as well as shows which could show up anywhere like movies.

Thanks to netflix/etc. you don't care nearly so much about movies or old shows now, as you would rather get them on DVD, or of course over the internet once that kicks off.

So the DVR is changing the economics of TV in an unexpected way.

Frankky, Comcast spooks me - for a long time. Verbatim -


about your cable company.

Coupled with rather aggressive "anti-drug" messages. While delivering the most mind slushing content...

Yours in paranoia,


Frankly, Comcast spooks me - for a long time. Verbatim -


about your cable company.

I agree with the statememnt above from Fry!!
I went to a dish after 11 years with Comcast. I realized there are Christian ads and Christian shows still on TV. For years Comcast put local ads over Gospel CDs and DVD ads and Any reference to the Gospel. They even blocked out Latter Day Saints messages for free stuff!


It's a dish and it works in the rain just F I N E!!


I couldn’t agree with you more Brad....An abundance of Digital media at your fingertips? What more could you ask for! Let’s stop waiting for "mythbusters" to air on 9 o’clock, Wednesday night! Turns out 80% of the time it’s just a re-run anyway. Who needs bundled TV! Give me what I want, when I want it, and put aside all the other crap! ILL PAY!

A wonderful new application called Peer Impact will indeed take this theory to the next level. Not only with TV, but with music, games and much, much more. (Not Schilling just speaking the truth:)

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