Why, you might ask, would this be a suitable topic? Because it’s the technology that we have now that inspires this post. I believe we’ve got a confluence of things occurring right now that make it entirely plausible for a reasonably tech-savvy individual to completely replace their cable box:
- Netflix: missed your favorite show? Who cares, just queue up the season DVDs to be mailed (or, if you’re lucky, it’s available to watch immediately)
- Hulu: Why not just stream the show for free? Hulu will even let you build up a queue complete with subscriptions
- Over-the-air HDTV: pull in those local channels, for free, using a simple antenna and your fancy new flat-screen (or an older TV with a converter box)
- BitTorrent: plenty of ways to find espisodes of shows for download as well, though this is, at best, a bit of a grey area when it comes to the legality.
- Digital stores (Amazon/iTunes/etc): just purchase your favorite episodes to watch at your leisure
Now, admittedly, a lot of these require you to have high-speed internet (any digital download or streaming) and/or pay (Netflix, digital purchases), but the options are varied. However, DSL is reasonably priced ($20-30/month); slap a Netflix subscription on top of that for another $15 or so, and you’re still coming out cheaper than anything the cable company (well, that I’ve seen from Comcast) has to offer – plus you’ve got high-speed internet to boot.
I guess what remains to be seen is how the cable companies will adapt to the new technology. Yes, cable internet is most likely the fastest that most people can get ahold of (unless they’re in a FIOS market), but that doesn’t give you any discounts on your cable bill. Will the Comcast’s of the world fight back against the pressure of free HD and online programming? Only time will tell, but I’m not holding my breath.