Innovating the Couch Experience

We’re going to get there, guys. A television experience that is as satisfying and facile as we expect from all of our smaller screens. You can tell because unrest is fomenting online beyond the usual cable complaints regarding price gouging and massive bundles of ridiculously useless programming. The new unrest is spurred by innovative incursions from the over-the-top providers, those companies trying to serve content over the Internet and around the cable companies. Here’s a great and somewhat dramatic overview on the topic from The Verge called Over the Top: The War for the TV is Just Beginning.

In it, the author outlines some of the stakes and stakeholders, the challenges, the history, and some of the ways the old model is being tested. As the article describes the situation:

Granted an almost exclusive monopoly over the most valuable content in the living room, cable and satellite companies have developed their products in a competitive vacuum, insulated from the pace and intensity of innovation that has transformed every other part of the tech industry. Smartphones and tablets might have evolved into the apex predators of the technology jungle, but the cable DVR is the mutant fish at the bottom of the ocean that breathes sulfur instead of oxygen.

Of course, the Internet is the avenue for that change. And I guess that’s the exciting part. We’ve complained on this blog in the past about the jungle of programming options and set-top boxes and apps that we have to navigate with TV-remote machetes to find the shows and movies that we want to watch when we want to watch them. But the truth is, these are the first painful steps to eroding the cable way of doing things.

Fortunately, it’s not just the technology innovators that are trying to wear cable down. Content creators are also taking those first small steps. Take Louis CK, the Internet’s favorite comedian, who just inked a deal with HBO for a new comedy special that allows him to release the show online DRM- and region-free at a $5 price tag months after it debuts on HBO. You know HBO, that channel notorious for not letting its content get away from its control and into new business models.

So it’s going to happen. I just hope it does before I get so old that I only watch QVC.

Photo credit: David Jones, Flickr