Can you guess what is the “perhaps the most overhyped and overanticipated phenomenon in tech history”? If you guessed “replacing cable TV with Internet services like Hulu,” have a cookie! For all the talk of Google TV this and Boxee that, the numbers couldn’t be more clear: hardly anybody plans on ditching cable TV for a world of Internet-delivered content. It’s a nice idea, and maybe one that will gain traction in the future, but right now? Not happening, sorry.
The deal is that a recent New York Times/CBS News poll found that a whopping 88 percent of respondents paid for TV, i.e., cable or satellite. Of those people, only 15 percent “had considered” replacing their TV service with something like Hulu full-time.
There could be several reason for that.
One, people are lazy. Who wants to go through the hassle of calling the cable company, haggling with the person on the phone, then bringing over all of the old equipment—cable boxes, remotes, modems, etc.—to the service office?
Two, what do you mean I can’t watch American Idol online? (Well, you can, but not legally, if you care about that sort of thing.) TV studios have done a good job making sure some of their bigger shows aren’t available to watch online. (Probably the exception to this would be Lost, which ABC hosts online.) You’re probably only paying $100+ per month for one or two shows anyway, and you’re held hostage by that fact. You’d cancel if you could, but you can’t so you won’t.
Three, who wants to watch TV on their computer? For some people, there’s still a very clear demarcation line between TV and THE COMPUTER. Computers are for work, or they’re complicated, or they’re whatever, and TV is the thing I stare at for four hours after I come home from work.
Oh, sure, there are people who have managed to cut the cord, as it were. There’s an interview with a 26-year-old who splits the bill for an Internet connection and Netflix account with his roommates. No cable TV for these young guns, no sir!
What of Google TV and the like? Again, if it’s anything more complicated than your standard cable TV program guide this will go the way of Wave: a nice a idea that gains zero traction in the real world. So you wonder why Hollywood is petrified of it.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to stream Liverpool vs. Manchester City. Don’t tell the Premier League.