Mar 9, 2009

So, What's A Better Idea Than TV Everywhere?

Previously, I stated that Time-Warner's upcoming TV Everywhere service is a bad idea. It is seemingly a one-sided idea that wants to implement a pay-per-click model on programming usually found on sites owned by the companies that are typically ad-supported. The whole thing with this plan is that you can watch cable programming and you will have to pay for it. Technically, this means that if you're already paying for cable television and broadband services (because, let's face it, this won't be for dial-up users), you'll have to pay to watch the shows you're already paying for on television if you want to watch it on your computer. And portable media isn't even included in this TV Everywhere (thus making the name "Everywhere" less than accurate), so folks with cell phones and the latest piece of Apple-branded plastic are going to look elsewhere. It's an all-around terrible plan.

So what would I do?

For starters, I'd work outside the box by looking at the world around me and ignoring the cable subscriber model altogether. I feel the cable industry is as large as the telephone industry used to be with no real choice in services and an almost monopolistic hold over the consumer. Instead of dealing with a cable company, perhaps the studios could adapt a monthly "pay-as-you-go" plan not unlike cell phone companies who present many variants of "Go" plans. Create a service that doesn't rely on being a cable consumer largely paying for channels you don't want but rather a selection of the best of the best cable has to offer.

Ala carte done right.

At $20 per month. Consumers could buy refillable/subscription cards at retail stores not unlike Go Phone refill cards.

What exactly are they refilling? What could hold ala carte done right? A digital descrambler/converter with a built-in hard drive that can house a weekly selection of shows from the best of cable. It's cable without the hang-up of relying on the network model. It's also a cross between a digital converter and a DVR, allowing you to record up to 180 hours of television, including local digital channels.

Think it's impossible?

The model already exists in the UK.

This is Top Up TV. It's been in the UK for much of the decade and a pretty successful model for the most part. Combined with the already stellar Freeview digital television service, Top Up TV combines the best of cable with the digital revolution. It's also a reason why the digital transition in the UK was better managed than the transition in the US, which is horrendous, mismanaged, and manipulated largely by the broadcast industry that benefits the most from it.

Yeah, a $250-$300 box is a bit much for some folks, but considering TiVo is roughly the same price, it's likely not a big deterrent as one would expect. Plus, I'd think TiVo would want to be a part of this endeavor.

Now, here's where the "everywhere" component comes in. This service model is not limited to just television. Enrollment in this service brings your programming choices everywhere you are, including your broadband computer and your mobile devices at your command and no additional charge. With room for growth and actual development of new services over time, this could potentially be a game-changer, not only for the television industry, but rather for the way media works.

But if they want to do TV Everywhere and limit themselves to just pay-per-click access on Hulu, YouTube, and MySpace like they want, then who am I to get in their way?

1 comment:

E.A. said...

Sounds like a winning strategy, that a network exec will ignore and do just the damaging opposite.