Pretty much everyone agrees that television as we know it here in the good old U.S. of A. is a big mess. The much hated cable TV companies rule and ride herd on a few hundred of the most popular TV channels but most of us watch barely a dozen at best but pay for the rest.
Apple to the rescue! Well, maybe not. Apple TV has always shown promise but now seems more like alt-TV than what television should be. What we TV viewers want, of course, is on demand video– all of it, all the time. Pay for what you watch. Watch what you want, when you want, where you want. TV needs to be reinvented. Apple won’t be the one to do it.
Needs vs. Wants
Much of what we do in life can be summarized by our personal list of needs vs. wants. We may want television on demand, but it isn’t a need, so we’ll accept whatever comes our way, even if we continue to complain about it. On the other side of the fence, those in the TV industry both want and need greater profits so they remain content with the status quo.
Status quo? The first position on the television’s input connectors. Bundled pricing where customers pay for channels they never use. Ala cart for premium television and new technology that enhances our viewing but keeps us obligated to pay the cable TV for both television and internet access.
There’s not much competition there to change the status quo. Cable TV companies don’t overlap much. Satellite television works well in some locales, but not everywhere. Apple executives complain about the interface problems that viewers face and while that’s an issue– many people have no idea how to use their DVR to schedule a program to view later– it’s not the main issue, and the somewhat anemic Apple TV had better not be representative of how Apple plans to reinvent television.
The main issue for all of us is the same. Choice.
Benjamins And Choice
What we want is the choice to stream all television and movies when we want, to any device we choose, whenever we want. Add to that the choice to pay only for what we use and not pay massive amounts for bundled channels we won’t watch. Bundling is the norm, the status quo, a method that works for the industry’s business model, yet one that even Apple cannot solve. We also want choice for the technology we use to capture the content. Most cable TV subscribers are forced to use the cable TV company’s cable set top box or DVR. That’s not choice. That’s enslavement.
Until someone in the industry, or some tech company, or the government, or some divine entity changes the current corrupt system to be in favor of viewers vs. content providers and distributors, not much will change. Apple may be focused on the interface and some kind of program guides, but those are minor issues in the scheme of things.
What we want is what we’ve always wanted. Choice. The ability to choose what to watch, when we want to watch it, and wherever we choose to watch it. Yes, television as we know it needs to be reinvented, but no, Apple won’t be the one to do it. Apple has become too afraid to make a mistake and must work against established corporate entities who don’t want to share a slice of the pie with anyone else.