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By: 1richardcavessa Thu, 22 Sep 2011 16:32:49 +0000 though i appreciate breaking the cable habit, but soon they will consider paying to watch their content…otherwise i’m with felix
until then rediscover the locals with an antenna and receiver.

By: handleym Wed, 21 Sep 2011 15:56:16 +0000 FifthDecade, perhaps I was not clear.
(I do not understand large parts of your comment, but I will explain what is happening in the US).

TV programming in the US comes from a variety of sources, and is distributed in a variety of ways. The system had a certain historical structure which is now in a state of flux.

One type of distribution is over the air broadcast, which takes the form of the largest commercial channels (NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox and a few others) which are nationwide. There are also local channels specific to a town or city, and which mostly show reruns and old movies, though they may do their own news or talk shows.

Second their are “premium” channels like HBO which, like NBC et al have their own programs. One could add here some 24-hr news channels, or some 24-hr sports channels. These “premium” channels, in the past, were only available through a cable TV subscription. As much as anything, this simply reflected technology — the broadcast bandwidth dedicated to TV was already full in much of the country, but there were still slots available on cableTV systems, and so if one had an idea for a new channel that might make money, one went to the cableTV systems and tried to persuade them to carry your channel.

Most US dwellings have a cableTV wire coming into them. You can then subscribe to as much or as little over that wire as you want. I subscribe to nothing over my wire. Some people subscribe to purely internet. Some subscribe to basic cable, which is essentially the over the air channels (NBC, CBS etc that I mentioned earlier), along with a basket of a few cableTV channels like a news channel or two, and a shopping channel or two, maybe a religious channel. Beyond that people buy packages of the premium cable channels — some buying a collection of movie channels, some buying sports channels. Which channels are available, and how they are bundled, are fractious issues that those who pay for cableTV have strong opinions about.
Note that if you buy basic cable, what you are mainly paying for is over the air broadcasting. In the past this made sense because the quality of the cable analog signal was better than that of the over the air analog signal. With digital over the air broadcast, for many people, IMHO, this no longer makes sense — but through inertia large swathes of America seem to believe that TV only comes through a cable.

Remember also, through all of this, that the entity broadcasting a show, whether NBC or HBO, may be very different from the entity that creates that show — hires the actors and writers, makes sure episodes are put together in time, etc etc.

Now comes the internet, and what are the consequences? At the TECHNICAL level, one could imagine having everything that was previously available — all the over the air channels, all the cable only channels. Set aside the question of whether the internet infrastructure could handle that load; the more immediate question is who wants what? Obviously the public want all they can watch, for free. Of more interest is the agendas of the non-public.
Cable TV companies, for example, charge more for cable subscriptions than internet — they don’t want that revenue going away. On the other hand some of the programming providers (the people who create the show) want as many people as seeing it as possible — they’re happy to get more dollars from internet viewers. A third element is that many old contracts for how various participants in a show — actors, writers, rights-holders for background music, etc etc — have nothing clear to say about how THOSE participants are compensated when shows are broadcast over the internet.

The bottom line, then, is that you cannot talk of getting “TV” over the internet. You can get some shows over the internet, and not others. Those shows you can get appear in a variety of locations, with more or less advertising, may or may not be free, and may or may not always be available. For example
– the creators of South Park appear to have a deal whereby they get to show South Park episodes through their own web site, run by them (and presumably they get most or all of the revenue this generates)
– the big over the air networks (NBC, CBS et al) have their own web sites which make most of their programming available — but frequently delayed by a week after broadcast, and available for a limited time. I assume this is because they would prefer you watch the over the air broadcast, which costs them no internet bandwidth fees and probably generates higher advertising revenue.
– Hulu is an aggregation site that provides a variety of content (some over the air stuff, some cableTV stuff, some new, some old) for free, with ads.
It has a companion service, Hulu+ that (for a subscription fee) provides more content. Likewise for NetFlix.

Note that NONE of this has ANYTHING to do with your ISP. There are two orthogonal concepts:
– you get internet (maybe through phone lines, maybe through a cableTV line, maybe through some other means)
– regardless of how you get your internet, you visit web sites that offer movies, TV programming etc.

By: FifthDecade Wed, 21 Sep 2011 02:49:06 +0000 Thanks for the explanation handleym. I take it you don’t get TV over the internet then? That’s something our ISP offers, although we stick with cable for TV and ADSL for broadband. In the UK they’ve recently gone all digital for broadcast TV, as well as offering a free to air satellite T service with HDTV channels included. But the BBC raises its funding from annual licence fees, not subs or ads.

Sadly, services like Netflix are difficult to find over here because of copyright restrictions enforced by the studios who are well behind the curve in this area.

By: spectre855 Wed, 21 Sep 2011 01:58:21 +0000 @Curmudgeon, I’m well aware of the difference between bits and bytes. Why do you think that would change anything I said?

By: y2kurtus Wed, 21 Sep 2011 01:50:53 +0000 My boss pays $200/month to get CableTV/Broadband/HomePhone/and HBO. She always complains that the only reason she pays for cable tv at all is to get access to 2 or 3 shows which are only on HBO.

I pay $49.99 for broadband $49.99 for ESPN/NESN/CNBC/45worthless channels and $9.99 for NetFlix. I don’t see how anyone with a job or a family could possibly run out of things to instantly watch on NFLX but I guess if you are retired or unemployed and watch 4+ hours of tv a day you might run out of content.

I think WiMax and LTE are going to be extreemly disruptive to both Cable and the phone companies. Remember back in 2000 when the market gave any company that wanted to build out a nation wide fiber network the capital to do it? What screwed those dozen companies was not competing with each other… it was the equipment makers who figured out how to split one fiber optic cable 1000 ways. I think the same thing is comming with cellular broadband.

By: handleym Wed, 21 Sep 2011 01:02:48 +0000 “if you have a cable line coming into your home, you’re much more likely to have cable-and-no-broadband than you are to have broadband-and-no-cable. Cord-cutting was a privileged, yuppie behavior when I did it in the 90s, and it remains a privileged yuppie behavior today.”

While this is correct, I think the implication is wrong. As far as I can tell, broadband at an acceptable tier (6Mbps say) is the same price or cheaper than very basic cable, certainly cheaper than what most people seem to subscribe to. In other words, the choice to pay for cable rather than broadband is not driven by economics, it is driven by lifestyle and worldview.
This fact may have implications for Netflix and similar companies, but using terms like yuppie, which suggest that the choice to subscribe to broadband rather than cable is the domain of snobs with more money than sense is not helpful.

As for FifthDecade, when Felix says Cable he means CableTV.
(a) In most of America you have both a phone line and a cable TV line coming into your house.
(b) In most of America you can subscribe to one or more of cable TV programming, internet, and VoIP phone services over that cable line.
(c) In most of America you can subscribe to internet over the phone line (ADSL). In much of America you can also subscribe to cable TV programming and VoIP over that line.
(d) Prices seem to be around $35 for 6Mbps internet, and $50 for 12Mbps internet per month.
(e) Digital TV is broadcast in America and, at least where I live (Los Angeles) it provides an astonishingly good signal — far better quality than cable TV. Why do so many people continue to subscribe to cableTV? I haven’t a clue. Blame the same careless attitude to money that has most people in America with negligible long-term savings and obsessed with hundred thousand dollar weddings?

By: FifthDecade Wed, 21 Sep 2011 00:39:05 +0000 Confused – what is Broadband no cable?

In Switzerland I can have cable TV, cable TV with cable broadband, cable TV with broadband via ADSL phone line, or TV via ADSL with broadband via ADSL.

Surely that’s possible in the US? If so it might be helpful if it were explained better in the article – this blog has a worldwide audience, we don’t all live in Manhattan.