A recent move across the Valley (San Fernando) to Burbank left us with a dilemma – having closed our Dish Satellite account (don’t ask, lousy customer service) we discover that DirectTV won’t work off our balcony, the only location the community will allow. Charter cable would be available, but for some odd reason they don’t offer a DVR in our area (even though they offer digital cable – go figure, it’s just a box requiring nothing on the service side.) So, since they won’t “sell” me what I want to buy, I don’t want to buy. (The fact they promise to respond to email queries within 24 hours and I’m waiting three days later is another negative.)
So, no supplier wants to sell me what I want to buy and I was under the very mistaken belief that the US was the “country of service”. Apparently only where a tip is involved. So, what’s the alternative? Don’t buy. But there are some programs I want to watch and my partner is addicted to “Project Runway” so absolutely no TV isn’t a desirable option either. Mmm.
Jump ahead a week and we’re cheerfully watching most of our regular shows and many of them look much better than they used to off the Dish Network receiver. We have our a la carte television – the brave new world.
Big downside is that I have to run cables from my laptop to the TV – VLC player puts the playback on my extended desktop on the extended desktop. VLC player plays a wider variety of file types and has no borders on three sides during playback so it gets lost into the overscan. (Tip, set the extended TV desktop to 800×600 so the pixels of the header on the player are relatively smaller.)
So how does the experiment go? It takes a few minutes a day to set up downloads of the shows I want to watch. But they’re mostly easy to find and quick to download. But so far I’m not missing “regular TV”. I can easily see how the whole oligopoly of networks and cable could fall apart with a little disintermediation. They are the reason I tried this experiment and it could really be a precursor to their demise. Networks and Cable systems/channels don’t add value any more. Once they did but now the technology is there to do without them. And, as much as the gatekeepers will fight it, when the technology is there for choice, choice will happen around the gatekeepers: they’re gatekeepers of a gate in a fence with holes in it.
One correspondent thought that I might miss the “serendipity” of finding new material, but because my viewing pattern was almost exclusively off the PVR in the Dish receiver, they tended to be only shows I knew anyway. New shows generally got picked up because someone I knew recommended them. In fact, while I write the blog I’m watching a documentary I found while searching for something else – the very definition of Serendipity.
If either DirectTV or Charter will offer me what I want to buy, I’ll buy it. If the cost of a disposable TV show, like, for example The Daily Show were under 50c I’d be happy to use the convenience of the ITMS to buy, but that sort of TV does not justify $1.99 an episode ($40 a month for the one show is not realistic or competitive). For shows that bear multiple viewings or are exclusive in some way, the $1.99 is not unreasonable.
All I really want now is a device like the Airport Express that lets me stream my video from this laptop across to a box near the TV to get rid of these unsightly cables!
Bottom line, the theory of disintermediation is not so much theory any more. Some of what I wrote about back in March last year is closer than even I thought. Not for my mom yet, but for some.