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Thread: The end of cable as we know it?

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    Re: The end of cable as we know it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Unassisted View Post
    The premise of this thread is far too optimistic. DirecTV doesn't want to sell service on an a la carte basis. If most people paid their cable/satellite provider only for the ~5 channels they watch, their bill would be maybe 20% of what it is now.

    No business anywhere looks for ways to offer customers an 80% price cut. That is especially true of a business that has invested many millions of dollars over the years in ensuring that it is regulated as lightly as possible by the government.
    This is where your wrong..... Dtv wants nothing more than to move to an ala carte menu program.... The popular channels will increase tenfold and you will pay a huge premium just for 1 channel..... Sure, a few people will only buy a few channel but most will buy multiple channels a day probably pay more than do now.... They have spent millions researching this very topic.

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    Re: The end of cable as we know it?

    Quote Originally Posted by 757690 View Post
    The cellular companies dropped the long term contracts that they forced consumers to sign in order to get phones for free. Seemed like a great idea the would help the consumer. But they now charge for the phone and the penalty for switching providers is still the same when you factor that in.

    The lesson to learn... companies will find a way to keep making the same profit no matter how they package their product. Ala Carte cable sounds nice, but I doubt it will be any different for the consumer on the bottom line.

    I agree with those saying that wireless will be the way of the future and whatever companies do the best to adapt to that will survive. It looks like DirectV is on the path. Time Warner... not so much.
    You're absolutely right, the existing companies won't willingly do anything that reduces their profits and saves consumers money. Fortunately there are new startup companies popping up every day to fill niches providing services that older, bigger companies don't want to provide. The death of cable TV is not going to come from something the cable companies do or change. Cable TV will be killed by Netflix, Youtube, Hulu+, Amazon Prime, Apple TV and a plethora of new companies we haven't heard of yet. The death of cable TV has already started, and in fact is well underway and gaining steam like a train rolling down a steep mountain. Young people have already quit cable TV, only the old folks that have grown accustomed to cable TV for decades are still doing it. As soon as these old folks realize they can save money and watch their favorite shows and sports games not only on their TVs but also on their computers, tablets and phones not just at home but anywhere they go then they will make the switch in a hurry. Some people are just slower to adapt than others.
    Last edited by AtomicDumpling; 04-19-2014 at 11:11 PM.

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    Roy Tucker (04-20-2014)

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    Re: The end of cable as we know it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Roy Tucker View Post
    I read this and initially thought "nahhhh, no way, too much infrastructure that needs built up, it just won't scale that well".

    But then I remember a couple "holy crap" moments from the early tech era.

    One was I was working for DEC about 1987-88 and managing a VAX cluster that was the front end to the GE AEBG Cray supercomputer. The countdown to HTTP was a couple years off (and ready to go off like a Saturn V) but connectivity with the Arpanet and internet was getting better. The holy crap moment was when I read the SMTP spec, did some digging, and figured out how to send email from wkrp.dec.com to my cluster over in aebg.ge.com. I had to spell out the routing and all that, but I was completely amazed that could be done. Sounds quaint now, but it was a big deal then.

    The second was at a group meeting in about 1992-93 and we had a guy in from DEC's advanced networking group. He showed us a laptop that had a wireless card in it and could get on the internet just out of the air. I was agog. I was like "you mean from my kids' soccer game, I can be sitting on the sidelines and get on the network??". Holy crap.

    So, I take back my "nahhhh". Nobody is right in this thread and everyone is right. It will be a combination of things plus some other wild card that nobody has thought of. It will be very interesting to watch. I never thought I'd see the day when my TV had a browser.

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    The Operator (04-22-2014)

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    Re: The end of cable as we know it?

    Quote Originally Posted by AtomicDumpling View Post
    You're absolutely right, the existing companies won't willingly do anything that reduces their profits and saves consumers money. Fortunately there are new startup companies popping up every day to fill niches providing services that older, bigger companies don't want to provide. The death of cable TV is not going to come from something the cable companies do or change. Cable TV will be killed by Netflix, Youtube, Hulu+, Amazon Prime, Apple TV and a plethora of new companies we haven't heard of yet. The death of cable TV has already started, and in fact is well underway and gaining steam like a train rolling down a steep mountain. Young people have already quit cable TV, only the old folks that have grown accustomed to cable TV for decades are still doing it. As soon as these old folks realize they can save money and watch their favorite shows and sports games not only on their TVs but also on their computers, tablets and phones not just at home but anywhere they go then they will make the switch in a hurry. Some people are just slower to adapt than others.
    "Cable TV" as you know it (pay $X, get Y channels) might end up dying -- but the idea you'll ever be able to truly save money by cutting the cable is amusing. We're still in the infancy of all this technology and, frankly, the only people who have been slower to adapt are the cable companies themselves.

    The new "cable free" lifestyle depends on a lot of different things to exist -- namely subscription content services that are provider-independent and high-bandwidth / high-data cap home internet. Neither one of those things are guaranteed to continue existing (especially when content providers start broadcasting in true 1080p HD or 4K) -- and neither one of those things will continue existing once the number of people "cutting the cable" reaches any meaningful level. And remember, so long as cable-households strongly outnumber streaming households significantly, you'll be forever at the mercy of groups like Comcast and DTV threatening to cancel carrier agreements unless content providers agree to streaming restrictions (like requirements that tie streaming capability to your cable account and/or significant delays in stream posting).

    So yeah -- it's great to cut the $80-$90 cable bill out of your life. Just be prepared, in the future, to pay an additional $60-$70 fee (on top of your basic internet costs) per month to get the type of bandwidth and data cap you need and then another $10-$20 per month to get the content streamed to you as well.
    Last edited by Caveat Emperor; 04-21-2014 at 06:42 AM.
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    The Operator (04-22-2014), TRF (04-21-2014)

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    Re: The end of cable as we know it?

    I think people are making the assumption that "a la carte" would be less expensive.
    Not necessarily so.
    The cable companies and Direct TV still need to make their money.
    I could see a scenario where today, you pay $50/month for 100 channels and only watch 6 of them.
    When it goes a la cart, you pay $50 and only get 5 of the channels you really want, and decide to forgo channel #6..

    Like right now, every subscriber helps pay for Fox Sports Ohio.. If it goes a la Carte, only the diehard Reds fans (and Crew/Blue Jackets) fans will pay for it.
    Some will only pay during the season of the sport they care about.
    Well, the cable provider knows that these fans will pay a pretty penny for their games, so why not charge them $20/month or so..
    The MLB.tv price will help keep it a little bit reasonable, but Fox Sports alone will probably be pretty expensive.
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    Re: The end of cable as we know it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Caveat Emperor View Post
    "Cable TV" as you know it (pay $X, get Y channels) might end up dying -- but the idea you'll ever be able to truly save money by cutting the cable is amusing. We're still in the infancy of all this technology and, frankly, the only people who have been slower to adapt are the cable companies themselves.

    The new "cable free" lifestyle depends on a lot of different things to exist -- namely subscription content services that are provider-independent and high-bandwidth / high-data cap home internet. Neither one of those things are guaranteed to continue existing (especially when content providers start broadcasting in true 1080p HD or 4K) -- and neither one of those things will continue existing once the number of people "cutting the cable" reaches any meaningful level. And remember, so long as cable-households strongly outnumber streaming households significantly, you'll be forever at the mercy of groups like Comcast and DTV threatening to cancel carrier agreements unless content providers agree to streaming restrictions (like requirements that tie streaming capability to your cable account and/or significant delays in stream posting).

    So yeah -- it's great to cut the $80-$90 cable bill out of your life. Just be prepared, in the future, to pay an additional $60-$70 fee (on top of your basic internet costs) per month to get the type of bandwidth and data cap you need and then another $10-$20 per month to get the content streamed to you as well.
    Bandwidths have been rapidly increasing every year since the beginning of the Internet. That trend is not going to end anytime soon, if ever. Internet access rates have been falling. In fact, more and more areas have free wifi Net access throughout entire neighborhoods. Internet providers are proliferating. Streaming options are skyrocketing. These things are not going to suddenly reverse themselves. The technology is evolving rapidly. As time goes by the Internet will be accessible anywhere you go with very little or no cost and certainly no bandwidth limits. The point people are missing is there will be no cables necessary in the near future. Your TV and Internet access will not be tied to cables running into and throughout your house. You will watch TV and use the Internet on your devices anywhere you go (not just your house), accessing nationwide wireless networks. Your TV is currently tied to a landline just like the antique phones, in the very near future your TV will be like your smart cell phone -- accessing programming over a wireless network.

    Companies like Time Warner Cable, Comcast and even Fox Sports Ohio will fade into oblivion just like Blockbuster Video and America Online. They are based on a fading, obsolete technology that will no longer be needed. There are already better options available and more are cropping up every day.

    Streaming gives you access to 1000x more programming options than cable and satellite TV can provide. Streaming costs less than half of what cable and satellite cost. Streaming allows you to watch your programming not only on your big screen TVs but also on your computers, tablets and smartphones. Streaming allows you to watch your programming not only at your house but anywhere else you happen to be -- at work, at the supermarket, at the doctor's office, in your car, at the airport, on the toilet, while taking a walk, standing in line at the post office, on vacation in another state ---> everywhere!

    Compared to cable/satellite TV, streaming offers:
    1. More TV shows to watch, including all previous and current episodes. Almost every TV episode ever made is streaming somewhere.
    2. More movies, almost any movie ever made.
    3. Can be watched on all your devices, not just your TV.
    4. Take it with you and watch it anywhere you go, not just at home.
    5. Most streaming apps have no commercials, although free ones like Crackle do.
    6. It costs much less, and always will.

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    joshua (04-24-2014)

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    Re: The end of cable as we know it?

    Listen to what you're saying -- Yes, bandwidth has been increasing every year, but you're starting to see now (with many ISPs) that you're being charged at tiered levels for bandwidth. Your basic 2 Mbps internet might run you $20-$30 per month, but going north to 30 Mbps could run you 2-3x that. As digital content goes to 1080p and 4K (and as more devices start to use your bandwidth supply as "SMART" devices), you'll need increasing bandwidth in order to accommodate the content.

    You say that companies like Time Warner, Comcast, etc. are going to fade into oblivion -- just who do you think is providing the high speed internet to people? You're from Cincinnati; how many options do you have for high-speed internet? My guess is that you probably have two: Cincinnati Bell and Time Warner (Comcast) or Xfinity. You know what all of those companies have in common? They're all cable television providers as well. Do you think they have ANY interest in developing a business model where you forgo Cable television service in order to just get internet service and stream all your content? For one, it robs them of a valuable revenue stream -- namely, your cable business. For two, households that stream content exclusively use way more bandwidth than other households. The more homes streaming digital content, the larger the drag on the entire network.

    How will they deal with this problem? We already know the answer because the cell phone industry figured it out a ~5-6 years ago when smartphones started to outpace regular flip-phones and turned everyone into a major wireless data consumers -- they'll set up tiered plans, impose data caps, and throttle speeds on high-volume users. The other method is on-going, namely agreements with content providers that streaming content be linked in with a current cable account.

    You say that "...in the future" there will be no need for wired cables. You're probably right that, eventually, we'll get to the point where all connections are wireless -- but that day is probably years (if not decades) into the future. Wireless data is huge money for the telecoms, and while the price of data is falling, it's still going to be quite some time before data rates drop to where the cost per GB becomes an effective replacement for streaming all content on 1 device (to say nothing of using multiple devices or having multiple family members accessing multiple devices). It's akin to saying "The grocery store is dead as soon as Amazon.com invents the Star Trek style transporter and they can beam fresh food right to you" -- sounds good, but talk to me when they invent the transporter.

    I understand your extolling of streaming and wireless connectivity, but we're in the grey area right now where technology has outclipped the business methods of monetizing it. It's very much where the music industry was in the late-90s or where the gaming industry was about 4 years ago. The music industry turned to things like iTunes and all of a sudden the free ride on Napster was over, the gaming industry embraced microtransactions and pay-to-win and the era of the $1-$3 full-feature mobile game was over. Where will the video/television/entertainment industry head? Don't know -- but I'd be shocked if it continued to be commercial-free content delivered at rock-bottom prices.

    Streaming seems like the shangri-la of entertainment -- but, I suspect the future that actually arrives will be much closer in reality to the one we currently know (subscription requirements, commercials, packages and plans) than the ultra-consumer friendly option you're hoping for.
    Last edited by Caveat Emperor; 04-21-2014 at 03:22 PM.
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    The Operator (04-22-2014)

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    Re: The end of cable as we know it?

    I don't know that a la carte pricing would save money at all. In fact, I wonder if it's really all those extra channels actually defray the costs of the expensive channels. When you think about it, the most expensive shows to produce are live sports (mainly because of the rights) and scripted tv shows (writers and actors can get expensive). The networks that produce such programming are popular, drawing in the most viewers, but at higher cost than other channels. Meanwhile, they often have sister networks that show reruns, cheap-to-make reality shows, and most importantly, more channels to sell ad space on. All those channels exist for a reason.
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    Re: The end of cable as we know it?

    Quote Originally Posted by AtomicDumpling View Post
    Bandwidths have been rapidly increasing every year since the beginning of the Internet. That trend is not going to end anytime soon, if ever. Internet access rates have been falling. In fact, more and more areas have free wifi Net access throughout entire neighborhoods. Internet providers are proliferating. Streaming options are skyrocketing. These things are not going to suddenly reverse themselves. The technology is evolving rapidly. As time goes by the Internet will be accessible anywhere you go with very little or no cost and certainly no bandwidth limits. The point people are missing is there will be no cables necessary in the near future. Your TV and Internet access will not be tied to cables running into and throughout your house. You will watch TV and use the Internet on your devices anywhere you go (not just your house), accessing nationwide wireless networks. Your TV is currently tied to a landline just like the antique phones, in the very near future your TV will be like your smart cell phone -- accessing programming over a wireless network.

    Companies like Time Warner Cable, Comcast and even Fox Sports Ohio will fade into oblivion just like Blockbuster Video and America Online. They are based on a fading, obsolete technology that will no longer be needed. There are already better options available and more are cropping up every day.

    Streaming gives you access to 1000x more programming options than cable and satellite TV can provide. Streaming costs less than half of what cable and satellite cost. Streaming allows you to watch your programming not only on your big screen TVs but also on your computers, tablets and smartphones. Streaming allows you to watch your programming not only at your house but anywhere else you happen to be -- at work, at the supermarket, at the doctor's office, in your car, at the airport, on the toilet, while taking a walk, standing in line at the post office, on vacation in another state ---> everywhere!

    Compared to cable/satellite TV, streaming offers:
    1. More TV shows to watch, including all previous and current episodes. Almost every TV episode ever made is streaming somewhere.
    2. More movies, almost any movie ever made.
    3. Can be watched on all your devices, not just your TV.
    4. Take it with you and watch it anywhere you go, not just at home.
    5. Most streaming apps have no commercials, although free ones like Crackle do.
    6. It costs much less, and always will.
    A day may come when all communication is wireless but the technology will need to take an order of magnitude leap from the most advanced technologies that exist to even come close to what you need. There are a lot of limitations with wireless. For starters radio spectrum is a limited resource. While I can keep putting fiber or copper in the ground until the earth is completely covered, there is only so much radio spectrum and of that only a small % can be used for communications. The second thing is the tradeoff with wireless, that being the more information you can send the shorter the distance it can travel and the more easily disrupted it is by objects in its path or rain and fog. Samsung is running trials with their most advanced wireless designs which they thing might be ready by 2020 and it can push 1G at a distance over a little of a mile if there is clear line of site between the transmitter and the receiver. The last thing is you are focusing on a very small part of the internet which is the last mile to the home. The core and distribution layers that take streaming content to the access layer and to your device have to scale at staggering levels in order to support the current mix of broadcast and streaming. We just finished up trials last year with a vendor that can push 1Tb over a single pair of fibers at a distance up to 500km without being regenerated. They were really excited until we told them we could only use it as a bridge technology and we would need systems that scale at 10Tb within 2 years based on growth rates. Wireless is not anywhere remotely close to those speeds and distances.

    The other thing to keep in mind is all the network infrastructure whether it is wireless at the access layer or fiber in the costs huge money to deploy and maintain. Streaming content takes up considerably more infrastructure than broadcast. Somebody is going to have to foot that bill. Unless everybody that streams content is going to build their own network there are going to be conflicts between network owners and streamers. Look no further than the dispute between Netflix and Comcast. The problem is the current all you can eat delivery model, which just like wireless, disappeared once the cost started to really escalate.
    Last edited by krm1580; 04-21-2014 at 09:44 PM.

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    Re: The end of cable as we know it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Caveat Emperor View Post
    Listen to what you're saying -- Yes, bandwidth has been increasing every year, but you're starting to see now (with many ISPs) that you're being charged at tiered levels for bandwidth. Your basic 2 Mbps internet might run you $20-$30 per month, but going north to 30 Mbps could run you 2-3x that. As digital content goes to 1080p and 4K (and as more devices start to use your bandwidth supply as "SMART" devices), you'll need increasing bandwidth in order to accommodate the content.

    You say that companies like Time Warner, Comcast, etc. are going to fade into oblivion -- just who do you think is providing the high speed internet to people? You're from Cincinnati; how many options do you have for high-speed internet? My guess is that you probably have two: Cincinnati Bell and Time Warner (Comcast) or Xfinity. You know what all of those companies have in common? They're all cable television providers as well. Do you think they have ANY interest in developing a business model where you forgo Cable television service in order to just get internet service and stream all your content? For one, it robs them of a valuable revenue stream -- namely, your cable business. For two, households that stream content exclusively use way more bandwidth than other households. The more homes streaming digital content, the larger the drag on the entire network.

    How will they deal with this problem? We already know the answer because the cell phone industry figured it out a ~5-6 years ago when smartphones started to outpace regular flip-phones and turned everyone into a major wireless data consumers -- they'll set up tiered plans, impose data caps, and throttle speeds on high-volume users. The other method is on-going, namely agreements with content providers that streaming content be linked in with a current cable account.

    You say that "...in the future" there will be no need for wired cables. You're probably right that, eventually, we'll get to the point where all connections are wireless -- but that day is probably years (if not decades) into the future. Wireless data is huge money for the telecoms, and while the price of data is falling, it's still going to be quite some time before data rates drop to where the cost per GB becomes an effective replacement for streaming all content on 1 device (to say nothing of using multiple devices or having multiple family members accessing multiple devices). It's akin to saying "The grocery store is dead as soon as Amazon.com invents the Star Trek style transporter and they can beam fresh food right to you" -- sounds good, but talk to me when they invent the transporter.

    I understand your extolling of streaming and wireless connectivity, but we're in the grey area right now where technology has outclipped the business methods of monetizing it. It's very much where the music industry was in the late-90s or where the gaming industry was about 4 years ago. The music industry turned to things like iTunes and all of a sudden the free ride on Napster was over, the gaming industry embraced microtransactions and pay-to-win and the era of the $1-$3 full-feature mobile game was over. Where will the video/television/entertainment industry head? Don't know -- but I'd be shocked if it continued to be commercial-free content delivered at rock-bottom prices.

    Streaming seems like the shangri-la of entertainment -- but, I suspect the future that actually arrives will be much closer in reality to the one we currently know (subscription requirements, commercials, packages and plans) than the ultra-consumer friendly option you're hoping for.
    You can put your faith in 1970's era technology. I will embrace the newer technologies that you are ignoring. It is abundantly clear that TV is changing dramatically and permanently. Enjoy your expensive cable plan with limited programming and zero mobility. I will pay much less money, get more programming and watch it anywhere I go. Once people get used to that freedom they are not going back to the old technology. As time goes by even more amazing new options will present themselves on a yearly basis. Technology evolves faster than you realize. Some people will adapt faster than others.

  17. #56
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    Re: The end of cable as we know it?

    When smartphones were new, there was a brief time where you could get an iPhone with UNLIMITED data for a flat rate of $29 per month. Everyone said it was the end of home internet -- why pay for two things when you could tether and stream off a 3G signal? Then they added data caps & throttling and the party ended.

    You act like I'm defending the status quo -- I hate it. I hate paying for cable. I'll just suggest that you're being incredibly naive to think that all of these companies, from the cable and internet providers to the content creators, are going to embrace a business model that drastically reduces the amount of money they receive while also increasing their costs. It's simply not going to happen, especially when the solutions to ensure their continued profitability are so obvious.
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    Re: The end of cable as we know it?

    A guy down the street has one of those huge satellite dishes still in his yard. The one you could hijack raw network feeds for free. Every once him a whole I'll see it while walking the dog and think about how far and how fast technology has advanced.

    I don't think prices will go down. They'll stay flat or slowly rise. But whoever provides better connectivity and bandwidth to provide better quality content will win, be it cable companies, cell vendors, WISPs or whoever. Be assured lots of propellor heads are working hard on it.

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    Re: The end of cable as we know it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Caveat Emperor View Post
    When smartphones were new, there was a brief time where you could get an iPhone with UNLIMITED data for a flat rate of $29 per month. Everyone said it was the end of home internet -- why pay for two things when you could tether and stream off a 3G signal? Then they added data caps & throttling and the party ended.

    You act like I'm defending the status quo -- I hate it. I hate paying for cable. I'll just suggest that you're being incredibly naive to think that all of these companies, from the cable and internet providers to the content creators, are going to embrace a business model that drastically reduces the amount of money they receive while also increasing their costs. It's simply not going to happen, especially when the solutions to ensure their continued profitability are so obvious.
    No they are not going to embrace it, but their replacements will.

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    Re: The end of cable as we know it?

    I was an early user of DirecTV. I got my first dish in 1993 and dropped cable (which was CableVision at the time and became Charter and now Suddenlink). So far, I've saved money with DTV and get 200+ channels plus every Reds game. They are so good to me that the recently offered me the Genie system with Facebook, Twitter, Pandora, and Nancy other services. Back in the day you could buy football and college games aka carte, but it was expensive. Then they added an option where you could buy the regional sports channels (remember SportsChannel Cincinnati?), but no Reds baseball. Then came the MLB package which was big $$. When MLB decided that this was Reds country, we got the Reds games, so I dropped the MLB package. My point is, I have better service for less money and it has been flawless. But, you can bet this ala carte will be more expensive. Such is life.
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    Re: The end of cable as we know it?

    Quote Originally Posted by AtomicDumpling View Post
    No they are not going to embrace it, but their replacements will.
    If the SCOTUS rules against Aereo in a few weeks, that's going to set back those "replacements" by a few years.
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