Nobody watches traditional cable anymore. At the very most, you’re DVRing all of your favorite programs so that you’re not subjecting your eyeballs to one nanosecond of commercials.
If you live in or around a major city, have a job, and speak to people at said job, you most likely know a handful of pretentious snobs who either claim not to own a television set (what are you trying to prove?) or have cancelled their cable subscription for Apple TV, Netflix, Hulu +, etc. (fine, but you’re missing out on the latest Jeopardy! tournaments and quality Food Network programming). In the beginning, I thought these television-viewing pioneers clearly had their heads up their asses, but I’ll admit that we are now moving full speed ahead in this direction whether us nostalgia-driven folk like it or not.
So what will happen to cable providers and large media companies in the near future? Will they become obsolete thanks to products such as Roku and Apple TV? And what exactly is Boxee, which was just released on November 1st, 2012? Let’s take a closer look at these three, up and coming streaming devices and how they will influence the way we watch our “stories” forever:
Apple TV: $99.99, $2.99 per new TV episode on iTunes
Apple TV (with 1080p HD) allows users to rent or purchase programs from iTunes to watch on their HDTV. If purchased, the programs will be stored in the cloud, which is helpful because this equals unlimited storage.
Other features: Netflix, Hulu+, YouTube, Vimeo, MLB.TV
AirPlay – Wirelessly stream from your iOS device to an HDTV OR mirror the screen of your iOS device on the TV.
Cons: You must have an HDMI TV and it is a bit on the pricey side.
Roku: Starts at $49.99, Requires previously existing subscriptions
Roku is a streaming device with over 600 channels to watch movies, TV shows and more. The box connects to your TV and home Wi-Fi
Features: Netflix, Hulu+, Amazon Instant Video, Pandora, NHL Gamecenter, WSJ, Epix, HBO Go, the list goes on.
The LT model offers a breakout composite video cable, which allows the device to function with older, non-HDTVs
Cons: No YouTube and no Ethernet port; heavy reliance on Wi-Fi
Boxee TV: $99, Free Broadcast TV with antenna, No-Limits DVR for $14.99 a month
Boxee is a device that allows the user to stream internet video on any screen in their home. Boxee also gives the user free rein to DVR everything on the planet until he or she perishes. If the user wishes to DVR cable programs in addition to broadcast, an existing cable subscription is required.
Holiday promotions include: Three free months of No-Limits DVR, a reduced, $10 monthly fee for life, three months of Netflix free and $6 Vudu credit
Other Features: Netflix, Vudu, YouTube, Pandora, Vimeo, Spotify, MLB.TV, TED, WSJ and Cloudee
Cons: Double the price of Roku, no Hulu+ or Amazon Insant, does not work with non HDTV’s, fee for DVR
With websites such as Ustream, where live and user-generated content is available for free, YouTube, Vimeo and Hulu, streaming television over the internet is slowly becoming the norm. As of April of 2012, 38% of homes had a TV connected to the internet. Because that number increased 30% from just the previous year, we can only assume that in 6 months time the number has risen again. There is also no doubt cable ratings have plunged – 12% between May of 2011 and May of 2012; a larger audience undoubtedly now prefers video on demand. Many are starting to realize they may be overpaying for hundreds of un-watched channels. For these people, the switch is inevitable.
So are cable companies currently digging their graves or siphoning savings into a private account in Palau? And what about advertisers?
First, as more original content is produced for Netflix and other streaming sites, more and more will flock to purchase one of the streaming devices and potentially drop their provider.
Second, with an increase in mobile device streaming, advertisers actually benefit from “knowing” the consumer and can target specific demographics. This is definitely a major plus.
Cable companies may NOT officially be dead in the water. In recent news, Apple has been in talks with cable providers over a set-top cable box for purchase, instead of rent [which is how most cable providers traditionally operate]. The box would make live TV as well as video on demand content available to the consumer.
Despite the very recent success of Apple TV, which sold 1.3 million boxes during their third fiscal quarter [up 170 percent year-to-year], I personally believe viewers still desire a traditional cable experience. They can stream on their computer but also choose from a large variety of programming when they want to embrace the ol’ fashioned living room couch and tube scenario.
Streaming is certainly the future but will everyone give in as quickly as Apple TV, Roku and Boxee would like? Will cable companies be able to forge deals with the new companies to keep themselves afloat?
We’ll see. For now, I’m going to plant my ass on the sofa and flip back and forth between 4 shows and Sunday Night Football.