I have been watching the increasing focus on creating a centralized entertainment hub with set top boxes from Amazon, Apple, Roku, Microsoft, and other less established players for years. Though even with the new content options my family still often struggles with what to watch. I recently read the great article in Techcrunch by Tom Goodwin called the Future of TV isn’t Apps, which I thought gave a good voice to my issue.
As the article states well, while the set box has changed the experience remains largely unchanged save for the content being on demand. Content is still organized into different silos (i.e. channels) and you often need jump between different apps to watch the shows you follow. Apple’s TV app they announced earlier this fall and released earlier this December attempts to tackle the issue through interconnecting different content apps into a single interface. The app allows for a single search interface that combines results from across different providers. Though it relies upon the willingness of the different content providers to allow access to to their content via Apple’s service and those same providers have an invested interest maintaining the link between content and channel: brand. Providers like AMC or HBO have spent significant time and money to build a brand around premium content and want those shows personified with their brand as its how they lure subscribers to pay for their channel. Till the pricing model shifts or there is a precipitous drop in subscribers the channels will try to maintain their control over the brand. Yet as Goodwin states viewing patterns have shifted from networks to specific shows. I watch a few shows regularly across several networks and trying to figure out a cable package that covered everything was impossible.
We had been getting basic cable bundles that was essentially free via our paltry internet connection from the local cable conglomerate. As soon as a provider was offering a Fiber option we jumped into an internet only plan. We haven’t missed the cable content nor being able to watch “live” since we’ve switched plans nor do I imagine that being an issue. Our loyalty is not to a channel it is to the content; we don’t care which platform we use to consume the content only that we can see it.
It will be interesting to see the further shifting priorities between shows and channels. I can see either shows becoming more differentiated from their channels or channel consolidation between different networks and/or channel at the networks.