In a recent Movie News After Dark, good ol’ Neil Miller posted a link to an article explaining that the modern cable box is one of the most power draining items in the modern home. While this is not surprising in the least, it did get me thinking. Why hasn’t the way television is delivered to us moved to the “cloud” yet?
Now, the “cloud” is a word that gets kicked around a lot in modern computing, and I’m sure if you’re reading this you already know what it is. But in case you don’t, in a nut shell (at least defined by Wikipedia) the “cloud” refers to “access of multiple server-based computational resources via a digital network.” In other words, if I put my new Limp Bizkit album on one computer, I can then access it on another computer or mobile device.
So what about television? I think we can all agree that unless you’re over the age of thirty five, you probably don’t get your television delivered to you in the traditional sense. That traditional sense being the formula of you + couch/bed/chair + remote + TV + (depending on your servce) receiver box = entertainment. No, for the new age the formula is iTunes/Amazon/Hulu/Netflix/any other VOD service you use + internet + mobile device/computer + (any location on earth) = entertainment. And that’s what this is all about.
Ever since people were able to access all their entertainment wherever and whenever they choose, the need for a traditional cable bill and television is becoming less and less necessary. That isn’t to say people still don’t enjoy the home viewing experience. Falling Skies, The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, Community, and other shows geared toward audiences that use new viewing models, still draw decent numbers from their live views. But we all know those numbers, in actuality, are higher, and the reason they aren’t tracked is because they’re watched on devices that can’t be tracked yet.
So the new question that should be posed is this: how can we find a happy middle where people can watch their live television how they want, and also download it at their leisure? Well, some providers have begun answering that question. Companies like Cablevision and Time Warner have begun offering iPad apps that allow access to a live television stream that can be used anywhere over an internet connection.
On top of that, Cablevision has also begun rolling out a new DVR technology that would allow subscribers to record up to five (yes, FIVE) shows at a single time, and have all of it stored off site at a central location that can be accessed from any box in the subscriber’s home. And since it’s off site, it’s only a matter of time before you can access those recordings on your mobile device. And that’s the light at the end of this tunnel.
While movie theaters struggle to keep their audience in the auditoriums, television providers are saying “Hey, as long as you subscribe with us, you can have it your way.” That’s what the new audiences has been asking for, and that is what they are going to get.
But what about those who opt not to have a cable bill? Well, those people are ahead of the curve technology wise. Thanks to services mentioned before such as Hulu, Netflix, iTunes and Amazon, people can download new episodes of shows (in HD no less) the day after they air and watch them when they want, but more importantly, how they want. All that needs to happen now is that a new, improved system needs to be put in place so that those numbers can be tracked.
The original question was “is it time for TV to enter the cloud?” Well, as it turns out, it already has. It just needs audience members to jump on as well.
Is one of them you?
To listen to the latest episode of Merrill’s TV Podcast, The Idiot Boxers with Kevin Carr, head over to Fat Guys at the Movies.