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The Television Will Be Revolutionized

Revolution in the world of TV, video, cable.  Everybody’s migrating.  We’ll see where they’re going.

A screen capture from the streaming media service Hulu Plus. (Hulu)

A screen capture from the streaming media service Hulu Plus. (Hulu)

Cable TV is so big, it’s hard to picture it gone.  The shows, the sports, the series, the monthly cable bills loom large in American life.  But a move to viewing TV content by web streaming – skipping cable for an Internet feed – is picking up steam so fast that insiders now predict cable itself may be gone, essentially over, in three to five years.

In its place – some combination of once-wild but increasingly compelling web streaming services – Roku, Boxee, Apple TV, Google TV, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime.

This hour, On Point:  Revolution in the fast-changing world of  TV.

-Tom Ashbrook



Whitson Gordon, deputy editor of Lifehacker, a technology website.

Kartik Hosanagar, professor of information operations management at the Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania.

Bob Bowman, president and CEO, MLB Advanced Media, the interactive media and Internet company of Major League Baseball.

From Tom’s Reading List

Reuters “Amazon.com Inc is testing a new monthly option for its popular Prime video-streaming service as the world’s largest Internet retailer steps up competition with Netflix Inc. Prime typically costs $79 a year in the United States for free two-day shipping, free video streaming and access to Amazon’s Kindle e-book lending library. The company is now offering the service for $7.99 a month on its website, which works out to $95.88 a year, but at that rate it can be purchased strictly on a month-to-month basis.”

Lifehacker “We’ve discussed Hulu Plus’ strengths and shortcomings, but with other services out there, it’s hard to put it all in perspective. Luckily, readerOCEntertainment has created a handy chart to show us what shows Hulu, Hulu Plus, and Netflix offer.”

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  • J__o__h__n


  • http://twitter.com/AJLaFontaine Andrew La Fontaine

    Clever show title.

  • Coastghost

    I have positively enjoyed NOT watching television since leaving production with NBC over ten years ago: no antenna, no cable, no satellite dish. The one TV set I own is attached to the DVD player I load with movies of my choosing (mostly foreign). Otherwise, I exercise freedom and choice not in picking one lame (but hot and fashionable) network program over another–but in not participating in American commercial culture so fatalistically, so uncritically. (The application of criticism with respect to today’s topic consists NOT of choice in what to watch, but of what to do while not watching the idiot box.) (Does turning a TV set on even require conscious thought? [I know some models don't come with "OFF" buttons.]) Quite cheerfully, I don’t face the daily/nightly prospect of finding commercials more entertaining than the programs they underwrite. I have no membership in any pernicious cult of addled celebrity. I don’t oooh and ahhh over “the world that TV brings into the home” because frankly I don’t want the world in my home: I largely despise American popular culture, for reasons obvious and not so obvious, but most especially the incisive, intelligent, informative programming that television offers (even the high concept corporate storytelling and rank propaganda that PBS and NPR commonly offer). Id est: death to television. (I’ll believe Americans are turning serious about limiting their unthinking exposure to excremental television fare as soon as Federal regulators limit broadcasting and transmission to no more than sixteen hours a day.)

    • Steve__T

       I haven’t watched T.V, in more than 5 yrs. I do the same as you hooked to the dvd player and nothing else.

      I just don’t know about the rest of America.
      When I was a kid it was my baby sitter I’m grown an no longer need it, Id rather read or do a painting play the flute, conga drum, anything rather letting my brain melt watching the crap they show on T.V. and god awful commercials.

  • J__o__h__n

    The pop-up on this screen told me the previous story is “The Television Will Be Revolutionized.”  How helpful to tell me about the topic I’m looking at already. 

    • Mike_Card

      I just got one steering me to a cop story–June 2011.

      • DrewInGeorgia

        That’s what I’ve been seeing all morning. Wanna track Cops? There’s an app for that…

        • Mike_Card

          I think drunkenness in the control room must be rampant; now I’m getting the message that the next story in Tech is iPads In The Classroom.  Oct 24, 2012

  • Coastghost

    An apt topic for “On Point” would not be a transparent attempt to aid and assist the television, cable, satellite, broadcast, advertising, and marketing industries: but a consideration of whether television viewing actually spawns stupidity by virtue of its expertise with one-way communication, or whether television fare merely attracts and captures gulled Americans (and those with TV-bred attention deficits) with requisite regularity. The authentic corporate stooge in America is the loyal television viewer: and once internet domestication has been managed satisfactorily, the internet will begin losing all of the dwindling credibility it retains. Why not let the FCC tax broadcasters and advertisers for the bulk of education funding, since broadcasters and advertisers undermine the effects of education so palpably?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/VYDX7HLJI5IH7X2BOER6CA62T4 Angel

    I have been on the cusp of getting rid of cable entirely I only use it to watch sporting events, which are not as interesting to watch after they have passed (except for Yankees classics and EPL Soccer) I watch all of my shows online cables becoming obsolete it’s becoming the age of choice in terms of what to watch and when.

  • ToyYoda

    I’m all for this change, but with everyone watching their favorite episodes on their own schedule, we’re going to lose the ‘water cooler cohesion’ of talking about our favorite episode that was aired the night before.  This will be replaced by sporadic annoyance of someone mentioning a spoiler of our favorite show before we get to view it.

  • http://twitter.com/mem_somerville mem_somerville

    We got an over-the-air antenna installed just recently and I don’t miss the other channels at all. I hated being at the whim of the satellite service’s battles with channels. And I hated subsiding expensive channels (= sports) that I never even looked at.

    Everything I want is available in another way now. 

  • siskoe

    Couldn’t take the constant increases dumped the cable and saved enough to pay for one mortgage payment…bought a ROKU and so happy…get my news from radio, internet or print…the cable companies greed has led to this…

  • Scott B

    A HUGE portion of the US still doesn’t have high speed net service, and $7 a month isn’t going to pay for “Homeland”, “Breaking Bad” or “Big Bang Theory” 

    Eventually people will figure out that watching a movie on a 7″ phone by yourself sucks.

  • Michiganjf

    All these channels, like AMC, which airs Breaking Bad, Mad Men, and The Walking Dead, depend on revenues from cable companies (cable subscribers) to produce the fine fare which people consume…
    … who will pay for all these great programs when the main revenue stream dries up??

    • Eric Duncan

      I think the futurist view is that there will be revenue stream sharing from either the ISP fees. Think the way the RIAA does with advertising revenue on radio (why we have a top 40) OR subscription based yet individual/smaller packaged. Most likely both will occur. and I don’t think either option is addressing the overly optimistic view they take of the transition 

    • Zeus1222

      Product placement is really picking up the slack. Remember the old sitcoms where dad came home and cracked open a plain white can with the word “Beer” emblazoned on the can? Now watch nearly any show and you can tell most of the real life products that the characters use. You mention walking Dead, that show uses Gerber Knives, a highly visible Hyundai, and most recently Enfamil Baby Formula. I recognize the problem you present and by no means do I suggest it is already solved, but I see the solution already forming.

      I just hope it is implemented properly. To use the current example of walking dead, I don’t want Daryl turning to face the camera in the middle of an episode to plug Barret crossbows with a smile and a wink after felling a Zombie with one.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1266410766 Phyllis Craine

    We ditched our cable oever 15 years ago. Cable is  huge waste of money when there are only a  few shows I want to watch.  We have a Google TV and a Netflix streaming and Netflix Roku player account and we love it.

  • Ellen Dibble

    If you have the time and money to have the latest devices, maybe content over the internet is worth it, but for me, high speed internet has degenerated badly in the last few months.  Now for instance, I’m streaming WBUR, and it is very, very scratchy, and the audio has a drag making everyone sound drunk, and it disengages itself and has to be relaunched, sometimes with the ad being relaunched.  To say I would pay for this?  Hah.  I can get better reception actually by bringing in video from overseas; I don’t know why.  Maybe there are fewer cookies tracking.

  • Roy-in-Boise

    Radio options have expanded also due to the internet. I stream On Point Radio and listen from Boise, Idaho. Mostly live but also the podcasts depending on my schedule. If I really like the show I send the link to the podcast to my friends and family from Spokane, Washington to the south of France.

  • dt03044

    I’d love to cut ties with my cable provider.  They’ve been overcharging me for years.  But even if I stream content from the web, I still rely on the cable company to deliver it via the cable.  They own the infrastructure.  Can’t they just continue to overcharge?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1043274337 Sara Moore Giannoni

    I don’t understand why we can’t watch everything on the internet, including sports.  They can still force us to watch their commercials.

  • Paul Chenard

    Haven’t subscribed to cable in a long time. I use hulu and netflix and it works out fine for me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jim.castronovo Jim Castronovo

    In my recent experience, cable companies are trying to rope in Homeowner Associations with long-term contracts (7-10 years) to provide cable to the hundreds of homes represented by the association. My guess is that the jig isn’t out yet with HOA boards members and that several years from now association members will be very dissatisfied with the fees they are paying vs the needs satisfied.

  • Zeus1222

    My wife and I have been using streaming video in place of cable tv for roughly 6 years. The cost of services such as netflix versus cable weighed heavily in our decision to change, but the main issue was the fact that we could watch our programs without commercials. It hit an ideological nerve in a family that feels as though it exists in a world over saturated with advertisements to pay for a service that was nearly a third advertisements. We watch television to escape from the day and relax; The last thing we wanted was more ads dragging us back into what we sought a brief reprieve from.

    • AC

      it’s the same in my house – we do still have basic cable, but there’s about 3 or 4 channels that have something of value on them, the rest are useless…..netflix is much friendlier and cheapeer

  • rick evans

    Woman saving a whole $10 per month can’t get the Patriots?
    Can’t get CBS  Sunday Morning. Can we say DIGITAL ATSC TUNER? Get an antenna. NO not rabbit ears. A UHF antenna. Pretty much all Patriots games are broadcast over the air.

    How brainwashed, by the Cable Cos, have the American people become.

    • Steve__T


    • Ellen Dibble

      There are places where landlords don’t let you place antennas, and rabbit ears are useless. One advantage of basic cable: I can actually receive CBS (this is central Massachusetts); and two: I can receive the local noncommercial station, for city council meetings and so forth. They had me walk through all the adjustments that could be done without paying for cable, and it wasn’t happening. But basic cable is about $80 a year. I just think they get a deal because the amount of advertising is ridiculous. The advertisements are definitely not targeted. They have yet to advertise a product that I am in need of, at all.

      • rick evans

         I use an amplified indoor antenna. I get stations from Boston, Rhode Island, New Bedford and Worscester.

         Also RE-READ what I said about that stupid phrase “rabbit ears”. Boston area stations are UHF.

        • Ellen Dibble

          I had bought an amplified indoor antenna, and it didn’t amplify enough.  I mean, I could be mistaken, in that “amplify” may be a term marketers use loosely.  I had asked the techies at a couple of electronics stores.  Maybe there are better amplifiers available now, though.  It’s a few years later.  I’ll ask next time I get a chance. (UHF, you mean, is the circular thing, not the ears, I think. I’m wondering if the broadcast strength had been cut back about the time the transition had occurred and now is stronger again? They sent us all these brand new converter boxes (or something) this spring, which are free, but you pay a rental fee for each one each month, and now when my cable cuts off, I can get channels otherwise inaccessible, but very muted, as if behind a silk screen, and I’m thinking their new access box makes non-cable access more difficult, or less?)

          • rick evans

             “I had bought an amplified indoor antenna, and it didn’t amplify enough.”

            Amplified means there’s electronic circuitry that makes the signal stronger and must be supplied power. It might also depend on where you live. I live on the 3rd floor on the South Shore.

            “I’ll ask next time I get a chance. (UHF, you mean, is the circular thing, not the ears, I think. ”

            The ring is one type but mine is fishbone like a roof top multi-pole antenna but looks a lot nicer. “Rabbit ears” are for VHF which used to be analog ch. 2-13. Hardly any station uses those freqs.

            “They sent us all these brand new converter boxes this spring, which are
            free, but you pay a rental fee for each one each month, …”

            This might be related to Cable Cos allowed to scramble local channels as of Monday(?). Right now HDTVs can tune in basic cable channels sans a cable box for those willing to RT*M.

          • Ellen Dibble

            Well, thanks for the clarifications.  The right to scramble channels went into effect in western Mass. around May or June out here, if I recall right.  And for months they warned us, and in fact one lost access without the box, which has to be plugged in all the time.  Comcast sets my TV to Channel 3, which is CBS, whatever that means.  Channel 3 is the only VHF channel, and it never came in using rabbit ears (on a third floor here, north of Springfield).  The amplifier I had (I think I had bought a couple actually) did also consume power, but apparently not enough.  I can’t get our maintenance man to be real enthusiastic about far more important things than installing an antenna on the roof, and it seems to me nobody in this building, and possibly nobody in town, uses rooftop antennas.  Maybe it’s a zoning thing.  Satellite dishes ditto.  My computer guru says I should have Comcast internet, because it’s much faster, and I might do that in addition, keeping Verizon for business. That seems extravagant, but there must be a way into the future.  

          • rick evans

             “The right to scramble channels went into effect in western Mass.”

            Your location in Western MA might put you at a disadvantage for getting over the air broadcast unless you can tune in Albany.

            “Maybe it’s a zoning thing.  Satellite dishes ditto.  ”

            Under the FCC digital transition regulations municipalities can’t zone out satellite dishes or antennas. Nor can landlords although they (landlords) have enough loopholes to make installation a challenge.


  • http://twitter.com/SpizzyP Paula Spizziri

    Hi Tom! Can your guests speak to the effect this will have on public access TV, which in my mind is a national treasure? They get their funding through cable subscriptions.

  • ryandburns

    I watch most of my content online. I have basic cable, but with a lap top and an HDMI cable I can watch free streaming content at our leasure since most networks offer streaming on their websites for free like Fox, Lifetime, Logo, etc. Don’t forget the streaming website Hulu.com.

  • autismtherapist

    I recently started using the rabbit ears again! I get CNN ABC FOX (yuck) THIS TV. All free!

    • nj_v2

      Yep! When teevee switched from analog to digital a few years back, i just got the converter box. I spent more on the hi-tech “rabbit ear,” indoor antenna (~$100 bucks, i think), more than i paid for a two-decade-old, large, heavy, Sony, CRT TV set.

      I get the major networks and public. Good enough for me. 

      Whenever i’m at someone’s house that has cable, and i’m able to surf around, i realize how little i’m missing by not having cable.

  • ToyYoda

    I don’t have cable, or a tv, nor do I watch any shows on the web.  I have DVD of documentaries, tons of books, and WBUR!

  • Ellen Dibble

    My cable bill is about $7 a month, which I consider a rip-off since that amount of advertisements used to come my way for free, until something happened and my TV would not bring in anything whatsoever, apparently because I live in an apartment.  That $7 brings in more than I could ever watch, so I am not tempted to enhance that service, but I would like to be able to stream the computer over that much better video and audio which the TV receives.  My fear is that the TV would bring in the same amount of interference that the computer suffers.

    • Ellen Dibble

      I’d like to bring in channels from beyond what everyone on Main Street watches.  I think I can count on other Americans to see Meet the Press.  But I want to see what the Chinese are watching, or those in India, Syria, Russia.  If I can only see images, so it goes, but in a perfect world, there would be subtitles translating into English.  Pie in the sky?  I’d pay for it.

  • stillin

    If I only watch animal planet, nat geo and the nutcracker competition, what’s the best way for me to do it with wireless at home. Right now I have directv but it costs about 80 a month, too much for 3 shows, 2 after Christmas.

  • Paulangi

    I also discovered recently that I could watch PBS Masterpiece episodes streaming from the Masterpiece website on my computer. Not quite the same as a big screen–but whenever I want, pausing, etc. Nice.

  • Anne in VT

    Does this mean that I won’t have to keep subsidizing all the sports channels that I never watch but currently have in my satellite pkg?  And what about Public Television stations?  Will they be available in this new web format? 

    On another note, I hear about the great pricing currently available on these new services, but I suspect that once more people move in this direction, the prices will escalate and new monopolies will emerge just as they have done in cable.

  • Scott B

    People just want to plug in a couple wires, hit the clicker, and go watch their big screen HDTV. They don’t want: having to figure out what box will work best for them for the content they want, reliability, and ease of use; play with router settings; find the best sites to view what; pay for content to several different sources. 

    This whole thing reminds me of how TV was going to kill the movies.  Cable will not die anytime soon.

    • rick evans

      I think your right. Remember how the PC was going to kill of the mainframe? They killed off the mini- but the mainframe is alive and well.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1506092623 Renée Lindemann

    I watch most of my television on line these days, but haven’t completely given up my cable television – partly because it’s bundled with my internet.  After a very irritating experience with Comcast customer service this weekend I’m planning to make the break – just as soon as I can find a reliable alternative internet service provider.

    • Ellen Dibble

      I had an unfortunate experience with a Comcast customer service person last weekend too, and was told that they have no service except 9 to 5, something like that, which is odd, since the person seemed to be speaking from Calcutta.  I decided it had been a mistake to say I was NOT interested in receiving a call-back to evaluate the experience.  So I called again, asking for a call-back, and had excellent help.  And the callback was very specific that they did NOT want to hear about ANYTHING except my very most recent contact.  So.

  • Jasoturner

    Given the fact the many people, perhaps most, are happy to sit and watch whatever happens to amuse them with the current cable model, I am skeptical about a revolution in TV.  The boob tube will probably remain the boob tube, and the nerds will get all excited about stuff the average person couldn’t care less about.

  • DrewInGeorgia

    What’s cable?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000812827182 Jessica Hill

    I would love to be able to kick my satellite dish to the curb but where I live internet is no where near fast enough to stream shows, here is no service from the “local” cable company, and rabbit ears only provide 3 channels (maybe 5 on a clear day). Streaming may be an option for those in larger population centers but for those of us in the country it’s a while off yet.

  • BHA_in_Vermont

    Ever tried to watch streamed content when you don’t have a new enough, powerful enough computer?

    Ever tried to watch streamed content when you don’t have a fast internet connection?

    • Steve__T

       I think if you look at what you pay for cable T.V. vs a new computer, the computer is cheaper. In my area cable T.V. cost $75 – $149 a month. I pay $54 a month for 30Mb connection w/wireless I can stream three different HS connections and no problems.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/VYDX7HLJI5IH7X2BOER6CA62T4 Angel

    The community feel has changed as well from in person to online bloggs and forums and even on the streaming sites themselves you find people who have enjoyed shows just as much as you.

  • FishtownFuture

    Can streaming work with over-the-air digital antennas to “fill the gaps” like NFL?

  • wiredsam

    big problems:  quality on HD flicks is noticeably degraded especially on HDTV monitors, and especially given unreliability of US’s digital pipes to home.  2nd, if you like small esoteric flicks, good luck finding them on netflix’s very reduced stream inventory.

  • AaronWisco

    I’m currently listening to WBUR / On Point in Wisconsin on my ROKU using the TuneIn app

  • ChevSm

    Cable is a complete waste of money. 

    I ditched it a few years ago and don’t miss it at all.  

    I’m much happier with my free HD digital antenna, RedBox videos and streaming sports online. 

  • Tim Svoboda

    I made the jump last year.  I subscribe to Netflix, Hulu Plus, MLB.tv-$130/year, well worth it. I get a lot of sports from espn3 and still have a antenna that I can get FOX, ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS from.  I watched a pirated stream of  the MNF game last night but I would have gladly paid $5 for it, or subscribe to ESPN for $10/month.  MLB app for iPad is the best app bar none.

  • rick evans

    Thanks to the ComcastoVerizonopoly American broadband is an over priced joke compared to Europe and Asia.

  • BobBoston

    I abandoned having a TV 7 years ago.  I was sick of being held hostage by the one cable company in my community . . . and its astronomical prices for mediocre offerings.  Since then, I haven’t gone 5 minutes without being able to watch great shows and movies on DVD and obtaining my news primarily from on-line newspapers and news sites.  By the way, I abandoned, FOREVER, Netflix, after it bifurcated DVDs from streaming and DOUBLED the price for each service.  I loved Netflix, but I will never, ever go back.  Redbox is my new vendor.

  • plmmncso

    People in rural areas don’t have good enough service to stream t.v. I cant even get dsl and many of us out here can only get dish or wireless. This is barely good enough to watch video, and we have to pay by the gigabyte which doesnt allow you to watch much of anything without paying $200 a month. For this to really work for everyone, rural service needs to be improved and providers can’t charge by the gig.

  • Anne in VT

    This brave new world of television viewing via the net sounds great.  It would be wonderful to get away from the structured programming forced on us by our cable and satellite providers. I would LOVE to stop subsidizing all the sports channels I never watch, but I wonder whether PBS would be available in the new arena.  And I worry that once more people move to the new environment, new monopolies will arise and prices will increase to the extortionist levels charged to long term subscribers.

  • Cala4Lily

    This is a great topic! I recently cut the cable connection for three main reasons: 1. cost (way too expensive) 2. I can often find free or at very low cost shows I really want to watch rather than pay for channels/shows I never watch and 3. I rarely watch and tended to DVR the few things I did watch regularly so why pay for cable when I can just stream it when I’m ready to watch!

    Not only that but I was sick of the negative environment promoted by many news and ‘reality’ shows.  Finally, I had it with being bombarded with inane commercials — especially since I was paying to see them basically by paying for cable.

    I also simply connect my laptop to my TV via my HDMI and didn’t even pay for any extra equipment.  Now, if I could find a way to create my own connection to the internet without paying a middle-man ISP I’d be even happier!

  • brad

    I’m skeptical, too.  1.) Whenever my kids are watching TV, I can walk into the room, take one look at the screen & tell if they’re streaming a show or watching old-fashioned cable.  The streaming quality is noticeably inferior.

    2.) I don’t care what these guys say, the experience of watching TV on a smartphone, or even a tablet, is LAME compared to watching on a 40″ flat-screen.

    • Steve__T

       Hook the flat screen to a computer and Vuwa la, no cable subscription. You may not get every thing on T.V. but if you’ve got HS internet cable ie Roadrunner you’ll get HD content form just about any national station.

      • brad

        That doesn’t solve my first point– the picture quality of streaming is not as good as standard cable.  A big screen just makes that more noticeable.

        • Zeus1222

          Brad, you may want to look at the video settings and connection type of whichever device (PC I assume) you use. AV Cables (Red White & Yellow plugs) are not up to par with HDMI or even S-Video (Anyone remember that?) I used to dual display with S-video and a very basic V-Card in my PC. After a little setting tweaking and about 100$ later for a new V-Card and HDMI cable and my streaming looks better than most CoAx Cable connections. Just food for thought.

  • William Ventura

    Has Tom asked about “a la carte”. I only use internet, but, if there was an a la carte option I’d be a cable subscriber again…

  • David_from_Lowell

    My wife and I, and our 2 kids (5 & 3 year olds), watch 99% of our shows (which aren’t many) online through Netflix or direct from network websites.  Last night I sat down to watch the Pats game and the found a blank screen.  After a horrendous 20 minutes of “customer-service” on the phone with the cable company, I finally found out that we now need a new digital converter to get TV service.  So instead we’re canceling our TV service!  I’ve been resistant to the idea, but I’ve come around and am excited by it.  And the Pats won!

  • David_from_Lowell

    My wife and I, and our 2 kids (5 & 3 year olds), watch 99% of our shows (which aren’t many) online through Netflix or direct from network websites.  Last night I sat down to watch the Pats game and the found a blank screen.  After a horrendous 20 minutes of “customer-service” on the phone with the cable company, I finally found out that we now need a new digital converter to get TV service.  So instead we’re canceling our TV service!  I’ve been resistant to the idea, but I’ve come around and am excited by it.  And the Pats won!

  • ThatsBananas

    Any idea how the FCC is going to regulate content that will be streaming? Right now HBO and other pay tv companies are required to have their shows/movies play after 8pm. Now you can stream it at any time.

  • J__o__h__n

    I don’t watch sports and one of the reasons I don’t have cable is that I don’t want to pay for it.  How much are inflated sports salaries driving cable prices? 

  • Lance Jennings

    Any NFL game can be streamed live through a Playstation 3 gaming counsel for a subscription fee. If I got rid of my cable subscription, I can watch football games that are not blacked out.

  • Steven Bendix

    My wife and I live in the Southern Green Mt. of Vermont. We receive our TV by way of Direct TV very basic service to receive our local stations (Albany N.Y. and Burlington VT) We use a Roku device to receive Netflix,Crackle,and local access channels to keep up on local government meetings etc. We do not use the extra cost premium channels on Direct TV because it runs the cost up quickly. We have cable (Comcast) running past the house but do not want to package the way they want you to. We have good non shared bandwidth DSL through our land line provider (Fairpoint Communications) and it has been so reliable. When tropical storm Irene tore through Vermont in Aug. 2011 cable went down and DSL stayed up in my local area. Communication was very important at that time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.wilkins3 John Wilkins

    I am 100% streaming at this point in my life. A large part of the content I watch comes from cable networks. If cable is gone, are the networks going to morph into only online? Are they going to be forced to create online networks to appeal to the consumers?

  • Michiganjf

    I think it’s hilarious!

    People have spent the last several decades shelling out more and more money for larger and larger, more high-tech television sets…

    …then, just because it was trendy and people had shelled out for their smart phones, everyone was suddenly watching all their fare on tiny screens!

    Now, all the phone and tablet manufacturers are starting to produce ever larger screens yet again, advertising the great advantages of the larger viewing area!!


    In another decade, everyone will once again be watching on huge screens, as the trend inches back the same way it’s done before!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/CAAUL4U4H54K5WUCNZUM7ADXNE Johnny Snatch

    One of your guests nailed 

  • Jim Sawhill

    I don’t have broadband and US is somewhere around 28th internationally now in that infrastructure.  I watched live world wide soccer in Nigeria and can’t watch anything here.  No cable either.

  • brad

    Also, “On Demand” is a bit of an illusion… I would love to “demand” the next episode of “The Walking Dead” but I have to wait until they release the next episodes in February.  And with shows like “The Walking Dead” and “Game Of Thrones”, fans want to watch it as soon as it’s available, you’re not going to wait 3 days until you get around to it.  Same thign with sports games.  “On Demand” really only applies when it’s a show you don’t really care much about anyway.

    I’m perfectly happy with my TiVo.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/CAAUL4U4H54K5WUCNZUM7ADXNE Johnny Snatch

    Streaming providers are a solution to piracy. In this age, people will stream content one way or another. If content isn’t available through legitimate means, there are other ways to get what you want and get it live (solving your sports problem). Content providers will either have to get on board or be left behind.

  • Paytron

    Dvds of movies and TV shows are available at your local library.  You can select them online, place a hold, and then just swing by and pick them up when they arrive at the circulation desk.

  • onpoint080

    We live in a rural area where there is no cable TV.  We have an antenna on which we can watch the public channel – excellent choice, excellent programming.  We  have a DSL connection, ot very fast, but use ROKU for movies and have found some “cable” news channels to watch on the Internet.

    That’s it – the alternative for us is a satellite dish – highway robbery in monthly cost.

    We need to upgrade the DSL connections in rural areas to make access equitable.

    • J__o__h__n

      We need better service in urban areas too.  It is cheaper to provide access there yet none of the savings are passed on to the consumer (and our taxes are subsidizing rural expansion).  At best you have two choices of providers who aren’t really competing.  Internet should be treated like a utility or better yet provided by the government via taxes. 

    • Steve__T

       The reason the DSL connection is so poor is they run it across your existing phone line It can be no farther than 3 mi, with no loops  or coils which are used widely in rural areas and it must have a main router where your signal comes from to connect to the cloud network. thees are the reasons that you have to get the highest speed available to get good streaming. But it can be done if you are within the three mile limit range. but the further you are the weaker the signal.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        In other words, nobody wants to build it and run it, and nobody can make them do it.

        Time for the free market to work its magic. (Yeah, I’m being ironic. I remember buddies in the mountain west calling it “Qworst”.)

  • ChevSm

    I would gladly purchase mlb.tv if they eliminated the blackouts. 

    Right now it’s useless for me b/c I can’t watch my local team. 

    Instead I stream the games online for free through a 3rd party site. 

  • AmyPavolko

    Most of my TV watching is based on premium channels HBO and Showtime, also FX, AMC, and NFL Redzone. We get our TV through DISH network and take advantage of HBO go through our Roku. My fiancee and I discussed getting rid of our Dish subscription when they dropped AMC, however Dish compensated us for buying those missed episodes from Amazon and even offered us a free Roku (to their demise?). Between Netflix and DVR we completely skip ALL commercials. If all channels were for purchase individually through streaming we would have no problems getting rid of DISH. We did the math, we would save $100 a month and would also have better access to what we like. 

  • plmmncso

    Rural communities will be left out of this ‘revolution’ if service is not improved. I can’t even get dsl where I live. My choices are wireless or satelite which are barely good enough to check the weather, much less watch the daily show. These services also charge by the gigabyte which means you can watch four movies per month for a hundred dollars. For this to work providers can’t charge by the gigabyte.

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.wilkins3 John Wilkins

    I am 100% streaming at this point in my life. A large part of the content I watch comes from cable networks. If cable is gone, are the networks going to morph into only online? Are they going to be forced to create online networks to appeal to the consumers?

  • Scott B

    I can watch what I want and when I want now – It’s called the DVR. I also have controls that keep my kid from watching things I don’t want her to.  

    I do see the dual-screen becoming more a regular thing.  They can watch the HDTV and look up facts, make snarky comments on Twitter, maybe get a coupon for scanning a code at the bottom of the screen.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pamohearn Pamela Paasche O’Hearn

    We live in  rural Idaho, and so “high-speed internet” is kind of a joke, but we bought a Roku box, hooked it up to our CRT TV in 2 seconds, and stream Netflix and a bunch of other channels like TED channel, sports, news, and more. We also have Amazon on Demand for further options. It’s great! We never had cable. Wouldn’t have paid that money for anything, but we love our system as it is.  

  • http://twitter.com/SpizzyP Paula Spizziri

    Responding to Professor Hosanagar, it’s the cable TV subscriptions that fund public access. These other avenues that he says the cable providers are considering will not result in revenue for public access stations. These stations are a powerful way to give a voice to the community.

    • http://twitter.com/EnableTech Kartik Hosanagar

       Thanks for clarifying, Paula. You are obviously right and it’s an important consideration. – Kartik

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/VYDX7HLJI5IH7X2BOER6CA62T4 Angel

    Buy into an unlimited amount of data so that you don’t get charged per usage grandfather into this and your golden.

  • Scott B

    One advantage to streaming: I wouldn’t have to pay dollars for umpteen shopping channels I never ever watch. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/rick.solie.5 Rick Solie

    Two of my sons (44 and 27) use Apple TV, (Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu Plus), cable for the internet only.  I use a CableCard and a dedicated computer with Comcast’s basic HD service but not their set-top boxes (for HGTV and the Red Sox).  One could get cheapo local-only cable for local news and the Patriots (Red Sox are a problem, however), or an antenna.  My sons are very happy, as am I, but I have a fair amount of dinking around with the dedicated computer and the CableCard but it’s still better than Comcast’s boxes.  Not for everybody, however, the technical bar is still too high.

  • RDTurner

    If I’m interested in following 10 shows over the internet, each with it’s own cost, will I end up paying more than my current monthly cable bill?   With the one cable  bill, I can look at all kinds of shows without paying for them individually. 

  • philip barry

    Seems to me ..as far as TV is concerned
       the switch from analog to digital was a great step forward in broadcast technology…but a big step Backward in terms of robust reception OTA…over the air.
         why is this never addressed. ?..Is any group working on improving  digital OTA reception?

  • meetoo34

    Any other David Foster Wallace fans reminded of InterLace TelEntertainment?

    • Patrick McCann


  • Ellen Dibble

    The last caller was bemoaning the loss of common watercooler content.  It seems to me people become to some extent producers each and every one of us, finding from Twitter or friends what is worth noting, and finding the pulse points of the planet, pushing what needs pushing.  I hear it about the media deserts that have only right-wing talking points — shouting points, and we are about to be liberated, I think.  I use Twitter almost exclusively to forward to my own attention links and topics, directly from their sources, since I didn’t know what else to do with it, and I’m beginning to get a feel for it.  The new Global Perspectives 4th edition was reviewed on air someplace yesterday, saying that what had been predicted for 10 or 15 years had transpired in 5 years, and the acceleration continues.  I think this is because we don’t have to wait for a news cycle, or for all the usual doors and elevators; there are shortcuts, and if they are available broadly, you can be sure people will have ideas and use those doors and elevators.

  • Michiganjf

    I watch so many things that don’t interest my wife, and vice-versa… ditto, regarding anyone with kids.

    A la carte sounds great to some individuals, until you really examine the variety of programs actually watched by a typical household of more than one person.

    There’s likely a viewer for just about every channel in a typical cable package, and the model used by cable companies today ensures that everyone can find everything that might interest them in one place, simply and relatively cheaply.

    Young people mark the trend line, but young people typically aren’t yet in a household where the viewing demands are yet that varied.

    As some marry or have kids, they’ll likely long for the simplicity and variety of the old cable model.

    Migration by many away from cable subscribership will make it difficult for cable companies to retain the current model, but I think demand for the old model will remain huge nonetheless. 

    Unfortunately for all those who will want the old (current) model, it’s future viability may already be determined… cable companies will likely be forced to give it up as subscribership is compromised.

  • jefe68

    The real joke about this show was how I never heard it mentioned that the US is about 12th in internet speed service in the world. South Korea is #1. South Koreans will have access to Internet speeds that are more than 200 times faster than what most Americans have, and they can have it for just $27 a month, or slightly more than half the average price Americans pay.

    Japan, Finland, Hong Kong, Ireland, Netherlands are a few that have much faster speeds than we do. Ten years ago we were about #1.

    I pay more for mediocre DSL service from Verizon, $41.99 per month. Which means I’m paying more than the average South Korean for about 200 times less in download and upload speeds.

    The irony as I write this my connection is slowing down. I get that little spinning Apple wheel because I’m listening to audio at the same time.

    We are a nation that is falling behind on all fronts in terms of infrastructure.

    • Steve__T

      S. Korea can fit inside of one state say New Mexico, their population is about 48.6M compare that to the total population of our largest state Texas 25.6M and you see a great difference. That is not a good comparison. When you have more land to cover, it takes more money and resources to get the same equivalent.

      • J__o__h__n

        I think a comparison of just our urban areas would also come up short. 

        • jefe68

          New York City is awful.

          • Steve__T

             You don’t know the half of it, its worse than you think. Some of the lines there have been their since the late 30s, old worn and over worked systems

        • Steve__T

           Very true

      • jefe68

        I don’t buy that excuse on bit. It’s lame and lazy to think this nation can’t get this together.
        It’s about getting it done, having the will and putting up the infrastructure to do it. Not getting this done will put the entire nation into a status we do not want to contemplate in terms of doing busniess.

        • Steve__T

           Jefe Its about money not will, talk more later gotta go right now

      • Samuel Walworth

        Lol, Ever heard about the stuff called Google Fiber? They refused to do business in most of the US cities.

        Secondly, not that long ago our dear city Boston, many  we have places where we couldnt and cannot get FiOS …

        So, please stopd believing this incorrect way of portrayal of the ground level issues. 

        • Steve__T

           Sam you have to understand Telephone companies and how they do business, I would love to give you an insider view. I just don’t have the time right now, I may later.

  • slc54sf

    We have been subscribers to MLB.TV since it’s inception, and yes, people WILL watch a baseball game on a smart phone.  We are transplanted SF Giants fans who live in Utah (500+ miles away from any Major League team).  The only problem we have is the blackout rule: it makes sense that we would be blacked out of Colorado Rockies games, which we can watch on television – but we are also blacked out of Arizona Diamondbacks games despite the fact that we have no access to televised Diamondbacks games, even with a premium cable subscription.   I am totally supportive of the idea of people paying for the content they want to watch, but there are still some bumps that need to be worked out.  Here’s hoping they get worked out soon.  (Preferably before the next Giants/Diamondbacks game!!)

  • 2Gary2

    I love that I have a DVR and never need watch annoying commercials ever. I honestly can not remember the last time I watched a commercial.  If this means revenue for the TV stations dries up oh well, someone else will come along.

    It is the same with the internet. I use Firefox with the Ad block plus add on and never see ads on the net. If you compare a popular site with and with out ad block plus enabled the difference is breath taking. Again if this means web sites loose revenue oh well.

  • 2Gary2

    Here is a question I can never get an answer to:  It is really annoying when the TV stations have all that crap on the bottom usually right side of the screen advertising upcoming shows or simply having the station logo. It is usually somewhat translucent. I am not talking about emergency broadcast message that scroll across the bottom of the screen.  Is there any way to filter this junk out?

  • rmcgg

    One thing that always frustrates me about this topic (probably for legal reasons) is the shows will not mention is the massive amount of TV available through Bittorrent. Through the magic of the internet millions of us watch our favorite shows that the global community shares anonymously. I understand the legalities are fuzzy and wish to stay neutral on the matter. Nevertheless TV through Bittorrent is an active part of the TV viewing culture.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andrew.shearon.7 Andrew Shearon

    One point that has been touched on by people who live in
    places with spurious internet connections, but not really fully addressed, has absolutely
    nothing to do with whether or not this format would be desirable.

    My question is, “Is it even possible today?”  One caller noted that they had a 300gig
    limit, after which the cost went up.  I
    have been lead to believe that this charge is not simply because the internet
    providers are a bunch of profit-driven-opportunists (and I am not necessarily
    saying they are or aren’t), but because if everyone was using this amount of
    data the infrastructure couldn’t handle the load.

    Video requires an ENORMOUS amount of data. Depending on the
    format, I should expect that a few seconds of HD video requires more data than
    several hours of typing dumb things on Facebook or whatever.  Maybe even several days or weeks depending on
    how many pictures you looked at or posted.

    If everyone switched to this today, and watched “TV” for the
    same number of hours, I’m not convinced that the current internet
    infrastructure could keep up.  In fact,
    while I am no expert by any stretch of the imagination about such things,
    having come upon an internet “log-jam” a couple times with only the current
    load, it seems to me that the capacity to do this simply doesn’t exist at this

    People watch a bunch of TV. 
    If it was all streamed over the internet this would reflect a data usage
    of at least ten-times I’d say what is currently used, and the reality is
    probably ten-times that, and maybe even ten times that…  I honestly don’t know.

    But even if the data capacity of our current
    infrastructure is enough to handle that load, meaning that the infrastructure
    is operating that far below capacity, it can only be expected that when it is
    operating at full capacity the price will go up significantly.

    Cable done in three to five years?  Sure, sign me up, and where is that flying
    car that I was promised?  And can I still
    listen to NPR?  I LOVE NPR!

    (As an aside, if I weren’t married I wouldn’t even have a
    TV, and my relationship with this computer is a love-hate thing.  My wife likes to watch TV, and about half the
    time she isn’t even looking at the TV. 
    We have a satellite TV provider, as our local cable provider is
    ridiculously unreliable.  We still have
    Cable internet, as that is the only choice, but it is also equally unreliable.  All she watches is “Law and Order,” and I
    think it is a good show, and since we’ve been together for 10 years (married
    for five) I have unwittingly seen every episode, and so I am actually more
    entertained by the commercials.  The
    clever ones anyway.)

  • NitaJohnson

    Suggestion for a future program:  Whatever happened to the “Do Not Call List?”  Is there a way to finally, for once and for all, stop the constant bombardment of telemarketer phone calls at all times of the day and night?  I am ready to rip the phone out the wall.  Any suggestions on how to cease this frustration would be greatly appreciated!! 

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GRAS2QOGIA5LIZWYLSTYZYEVYU julikell

      Hi Nita, 

      I turned off my answering machine last month, and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. My family and close friends know to reach me on my cell phone.

      I check the caller ID on my phone when I get home. Mostly junk. If I recognize a number, I’ll call it back.

      The telemarketer calls will never cease. 


    • Steve__T

       Get a cell phone drop the land line. I used to travel a lot and return to 50-60 msg from no one I wanted to hear from, mostly telemarketers and sales. I figured why should I pay to be bothered with this and cut it off.

  • Flush2wice

    Netlix, etc is great for families with kids. Lots of content, no commercials. I cancelled my cable a year and a half ago. I only miss live sports.

  • D W

    I’m coming from another point of view. I never checked into the TV ‘hotel’ you mentioned. I grew up without Television in my family home. (and during the 1970s pre-cable in northern NY limited to one channel) I’m 55 and probably have only ‘owned’ or lived with access to TV for 7 or so years of my adult life. However once the personal computer (Macintosh) with internet access and streaming content came about I began to watch content I was interested in.  Basically I have always and continue to feel that TV is intrusive, not just as a fixture, but also the commercial aspects, ‘push scheduling’ and the anti-social dynamics that often happens when the tube is turned on during family get togethers.

    I love the choice of what, when, and where in our home we can view ‘content’. Sometimes the whole family sits together and watches multiple episodes of a series and at other times we are all separately watching with headsets in various corners of our home.  This does bring up different social issues but the biggest benefit in all is CHOICE!!!

    Some of your comments have mentioned not having access to programming local etc… I know some folks who have gone back to using non-cable access and using antenna for reception. I’m sure there must be greater advances in antenna technologies for broadcast reception. Would you tell us more about that? I’d rather pay for internet access and invest in good reception technology than buy into cable technology that raises rates.

  • Bryan Yates

    My family refuses to do business with the cable/satellite operators.  We were happy for a few years subscribing to networks who offered streaming, but the cable companies have cracked down on these networks.
    Example:  for a couple of years I subscribed to Universal Sports networks online offerings to watch the sports they offered.  This spring they took my money for a subscription, then reduced the number of events shown, before finally requiring proof of a cable subscription or service which shows Universal Sports.  This network is owned by NBC, which presumably caved from cable or satellite provider pressure.  Perhaps the thinking was that it would entice online subscribers to get cable or satellite.  All it did was move me to install a VPN, and I can now stream all the sports I like from Europe and avoid the “country blackout”.

  • Mike_Card

    This is not interesting.  It’s all about making sausages and all I want is a damned hot dog.  Who cares?

  • http://www.dogoodgauge.org The Do Good Gauge

    This comment may be “Off Point”, but the On Point’s contact us page suggested adding any feedback on the daily listener comment page.

    I would like to thank On Point for its listener comment thread. I appreciate the opportunity to associate my thoughts and advocacy as they relate or don’t relate to each radio episode. My thoughts may aggravate some of the readers, but it is nice to know On Point’s moderators will not delete an attempt to engage in the conversation.

    As we witness television being revolutionized, I hope all forms of media will change in the near future. On Point has taken the first step by allowing the audience to freely converse, no matter how far the conversation strays from the topic.

    Maybe this program should be named something other than “On Point”. Each program presents a problem or a thesis to the audience. As a good journalist, Tom Ashbrook realizes his job is not to present the solution. His job is to allow the audience to decide. Answers are found in the fringe.  When a problem is finally resolved, we often realize the question was never asked. There is more than one point in a three dimensional space as illustrated in my avatar. As much as Sun Tzu and Fox News believe in divide and rule, most dichotomies are false. There is more than one point to every story Tom presents. Staying on point ignores alternative perspectives.  Perspectives which may provide better answers.

    Any thoughts for a new name to this program?

  • Pingback: The Television Will Be Revolutionized | Clearing House for Environmental Course Material

  • http://twitter.com/jiao_tu Winston

    Slightly disappointed that P2P (peer-to-peer) was not touched on as a possible avenue for content distribution.

  • ranndino

    I never thought that a show about a rather non-controversial subject like this would annoy me to an extent that this one did. The guys from Lifehacker were supposed to be experts on the issue and yet every time a caller made a pretty ignorant statement they did not only not correct it, but backed it up. Let’s take this one by one.

    1. Inability to watch the NFL creating a major content hole for cable cutters. Not true! Since most of the NFL games are shown on network TV there is not one, but two simple solutions for this. A) Splitting your internet cable (via a cheap splitter you can buy at Radioshack or any other electronics or hardware store) and inserting one of them into the back of your cable ready TV will give you all the network channels in HD for free (and a few others). B) Getting a cheap over the air antenna would do the same.

    2. Forget all these TV set top boxes. When I was researching cutting my cable TV I looked at all of them and they all have limits and restrictions. Your best bet is to do what I ended up settling on and purchasing an HTPC (Home Theater PC), which is a small computer specifically designed for hooking up to your TV. It’s about the size of a router (mine is from a company called Zotac) and is extremely easy to setup. All you need is a single HDMI cable to connect it to your TV. It works just like a regular computer connecting to the Internet wirelessly through your Wi-Fi network and you can watch whatever you want without any restrictions based on who has a business deal with whom. Yes, you can even use P2P to get content if you wish.

    These are just a couple of glaring omissions by your panel of “experts” from Lifehacker. You should invite me on the show next time :)

  • Regular_Listener

    I have not had cable television in many years and don’t miss it.  It is overpriced and so full of annoying commercial breaks and other annoyances that I had pretty much lost interest in watching it.  The content also left a lot to be desired – repetitive, and with a lot of similar programming – hundreds of channels but a limited range of viewing choices.  I am not sorry to see the cable companies, with their local monopolies, beginning to sweat.

  • ranndino

    Forgot to add one more thing the “experts” on the show missed. When a caller said that she can’t watch the news, specifically CNN, and they confirmed that this was indeed another gap I couldn’t believe my ears. CNN has one of the best set of mobile apps offering a ton of video content. You can use them on your phones or tablets. Or just go to their site. In addition CNN has a great Youtube channel. Subscribe to it & you can catch all the important news by opening your Youtube app or Youtube in the browser & looking at your subcriptions feed. As far as not being able to watch Rachel Maddow without cable she has her own dedicated app with full shows! Meet the Press comes out as a video podcast & can also be watched online in full! The news is definitely not a gap in any way! I’d much rather consume my news this way. On demand & only what I’m interested in instead of having to sit through a bunch of mundane stories I don’t care about.

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Bob Dylan and Victor Maymudes at "The Castle" in LA before the 1965 world tour. Lisa Law/The Archive Agency)

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