Wednesday, April 25, 2012

For Consuming Content, Its All About The Pipe

Great article in Gigaom, entitled The Future of TV isn't TV, that should be must reading.  As far as consumers are concerned, its no longer about TV consumption, whether broadcast or cable, it is about their broadband and wireless access.  Ask any cable home that subscribes to the triple play of cable, data, and phone, and ask them which service is most valuable to them, the vast majority will point to their data or broadband connection.  The cable can go out and the TV can't get your favorite show; there will be grumbling till it is fixed.  But lose your broadband or wireless connection, and you can probably hear the yelling and screaming coming from the home.  Broadband is the most important product for the home.

The challenge as it faces government oversight is the same battle that has been around for years and years.  It is the intersection between content and distribution and whether these two businesses should have a common owner.  This discussion first came to head when movie studios had hard times getting their movies onto screens in local communities.  Studios that owned movie houses wouldn't let competing studios distribute their movies.  It became a legal antitrust battle that resulted in studios divesting themselves of theaters.

Today we have distribution companies also owning content.  Net neutrality laws tried to prevent distribution companies from showing favoritism to their content while slowing down the streaming of others.  It seems that antitrust permeates today new world of content and distribution.  "The two are now intertwined, so from a regulatory perspective the fight will now be about who holds the power in terms of relationships with consumers and in terms of their relationships with content companies." The author asks great questions to get to the heart of the battle and how to best serve consumer interests.  How much or little regulation we need is a political battle.  Some argue that a free economy and encouraging technological innovation will lead to solutions; others, that regulation is needed to protect its constituents.

The TV model has changed to a broadband one and content is being delivered to fill the demand.  How its distribution is enable, slowed down, or even denied, is what raises question for both sides of the problem.