The FCC will apparently advocate a la carte TV pricing and Google may be about to announce some sort of internet appliance.
It's plain that TV as we know it isn't going to last. Nobody likes the cable bundles (buy 30 channels you don't care about to get the one you do). Although a la carte channels are an improvement, nobody is going to like that either: what people really want is a la carte content, period. That may be what Google is planning to provide, and if they don't someone else (Microsoft?) surely will. The only real question is will this new media be subscription based or peppered with ads? Actually, there's no question there: both models will be used; it's just a matter of how much we're willing to pay and how many ads we'll put up with.
But we have people worried that this is harmful. The News.com article referenced above notes:
But cable TV companies have argued that pricing individual channels would result in fewer choices for all consumers. They believe that a la carte pricing would make it too expensive to offer less-popular channels that presently are bundled with popular channels.
I think that ignores the changing economics of production. All media content is becoming less expensive to produce. It also ignores the changing cost of distribution, which also is rapidly approaching zero.
This is all driven by the Internet, of course. We already have some TV shows transitioning to the Internet, and I have little doubt that more will follow. Just as blogging is damaging traditional newspapers, traditional TV will also diminish in importance. That may take longer, but it is going to happen.
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More Articles by Anthony Lawrence © 2011-05-03 Anthony Lawrence