Basically I want three things from all the pipes and waves coming into and emanating from my house. First, I want internet access at a reasonable-for-2005 speed. Second, I want to watch red-blooded American sports: football and basketball, at the college and professional levels. Third, I want to watch my blue-blood European sport: soccer, at the league and international levels. That’s it.
In exchange for those services, I am prepared to pay, quite handsomely I think, the sum of $65 dollars. Near as I can figure, you could probably offer me a 256kbs internet connection, ESPN, and Fox Soccer, and meet the floor of my criteria for aforementioned cash. You could offer more (say Cox Sports channel, or NBA Season Ticket channels), or better (HDTV, faster ‘net connection), and I could probably be convinced to pay a bit more, or just earn a good name.
Simple, right? A small bit of IP pipe, two TV channels, good service, and you’ve got me hooked for the rest of my foreseeable life. And hey, I’m flexible. You want to offer me Wi-Fi instead of landline broadband? I’m game. You want to deliver those two channels over copper instead of cable? Cool with me.
Sadly, this is not how the world works.
Instead of accepting the transaction terms outlined above, you, Mr. Cable Monopoly, are currently trying to offer me everything except what I want. So I am forced to enumerate what I do not want.
I don’t care about The Disney Channel, or most other channels. I’ve had 300-channel cable, and all I got out of it was a profound depression. At those moments where I had time and inclination to sit down with the remote and the all-scrolling program guide, I would flip through the next 1.5 hours of programming for all of those 300 channels, bright-eyed with expectation and excitement at exploring the offerings of the largest, most well-funded entertainment industry the sum total of the entire Earth’s efforts has produced, and inevitably conclude, “meh, there’s nothing good on TV.”
This is after flipping through screenful upon screenful of TVGuide listings, for fifteen minutes.
I don’t care about landline phone service. I have a perfectly good cell phone that comes with many, many minutes that I pay dearly for. There is no reason for me to accommodate another ten digit number in my life.
I donít care about most TV shows. The ones I watch, I can download anyways, and watch it (as Ryan pointed out) when I want, without commercial interruption.
Basically, I’m saying this: I know what I like, I find out what I like through means other than the TV, and I don’t care that you, Mr. Cable Monopoly, offer me these 300-odd other channels that carry exactly nothing that I wish to watch.
My last point is that my demands could easily be met. I am basically asking for TV-on-demand, or at least a la carte cable, which is a death toll for many obtuse media business models and agreements. I am also asking to decouple TV from internet from phone, but still to offer all three. These are not new ideas. They are also eminently possible using technology that is at least five years old. But near as I can figure, these companies do not actually care about giving me what I want. I’m not even a selfish, crying baby to them. I’m just nameless, noiseless krill that gets sucked up and digested in their bloated primitive corporate entity.
So, in summary, I know what I want, neither Comcast nor Bellsouth nor Verizon give it to me, and in fact instead of giving me what I would like they instead give me exactly what I do no want, and this is all when they are fully capable of delivering what I want.