According to anonymous sources via The Wall Street Journal, Apple is possibly in the process of wooing at least CBS and Disney into a subscription service for streaming television. The basic rundown is that the customer could subscribe to a program stream without having to deal with those messy, customer-unfriendly cable companies that everyone I know loathes and despises in a vein similar to their affections for Terrorists and Nazi Zombies.
I, for one, am ecstatic about the prospect of only having to pay for the small handful of channels I watch (when I actually sit down and watch television). If I want The Military History Channel, I don’t want to have to purchase Golf TV, BET, Lifetime, etc. when I will practically never find myself actively watching such tripe. Of course, this is something we’ve all been subjected to since the advent and explosion of the format since the 1980’s. I remember talk during the late 90’s about the FCC kicking around the idea of “TV a la carte” wherein, thanks to programmable receivers, consumers would be able to purchase subscriptions only for networks they actually watch. Lobbies representing the cable providers (namely Comcast and Verizon, if memory serves correctly) immediately went into action championing the plight of the niche-market TV networks–small, usually locally-oriented, stations that have little to no widespread appeal (think low-power UHF stations of old)–saying they would inevitably be destroyed if no one had the opportunity to stumble upon them. Thankfully, we now have Web 2.0. With its proliferation of on-demand services such as RSS, YouTube, Twitter, etc., the “no one will ever see this” excuse is practically eliminated.
I think this is certainly the start of something new and necessary for the growth of entertainment, information, and technology. With seemingly limitless options provided by the Interweb, television doesn’t have to be held hostage to timeslots…or location-specific receivers, for that matter. My only concern is the fact that Apple might keep a stranglehold on the market–is there a way to make sure that the receiver software stays open? I don’t want to have to deal with iTunes just to keep up with 24 or Doctor Who. Frankly, I don’t want to have to deal with iTunes, period, but that’s a subject for another time.
In the meantime: Streaming media to your set-top box, laptop, or phone? Yes, please.