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Internet TV

“Cutting the Cord”, it’s a battle cry that many of us have heard with regards to telephone service.  The economics were simple, do you pay for land line, cellular, or both.  In 2008, a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated that “16-percent of households have no traditional landline phone and rely exclusively on a mobile phone”.

A similar debate has also come to the television set.  Do you “cut the cord” of your paid content subscription and leverage the fee paid for broadband Internet to receive video content.  In August 2010, a New York Times article sited that 88% of their customers still had some form of traditional video content subscription.  In the same article the president of Leichtman Research Group said that Americans were not and did not indicate they were moving towards eliminating their video content subscriptions in favor for Internet based video content.

At the same time Netflix is predicting that “members will watch more content streamed than delivered on DVD” in the 4th quarter of 2010.  Then you have reports from Cisco that likewise predicts that video will consumer 90% of the consumer internet traffic by the year 2013.  My query is whether these online video services are viewed on computers, or are they making their way to television set.

My own experience is that I’m watching more online or streaming content on my television (interconnected to my laptop) than I do from over-the-air or paid cable/satellite service.  Now I am in the minority in that I do not have a paid cable/satellite service.  At the same time online video content services via Hulu, Netflix, and even the major broadcast network’s own web pages provide ample opportunity for me to watch shows and content at my convenience.  Just yesterday I watch the entire first episode of “The Sing-Off because I had a scheduling conflict when it aired Monday night.

From my professional perspective, this is a significant conundrum.  Part of my professional responsibilities including managing a 40 channel cable television service for 2,500 college residents.  This represents a significant annual cost and the question I’ve wrestled with over the last three years is whether this service was used and useful.  Early indicators suggest that while college students are more likely to view video content over the Internet, they also watch traditional cable television as well.  The tipping point, in my opinion, will be when live sporting events become as ubiquitous on the internet as they are on broadcast television.

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