Thursday, May 17, 2012

Status of my move away from legacy phone/cable companies

The subject of my post comes from a May 20, 2010 post of the same title where I discussed my progress with moving away from legacy phone/cable companies.

Last weekend I returned my rented Rogers Digital Cable tuner, and cancelled my cable service. The stations are still there until the end of the next billing period next month, but the decision is finally made and paperwork done.

Since 2010 I decided to experiment with something between Rogers Digital cable and what I would ideally have considered. I obviously don't like technology that is "sold" to me that I don't really own (IE: that I as the owner aren't given all the keys to), but I made a compromise between that ideal and the many wrongs of Rogers and Rogers Digital Cable.

In May 2011 I ordered a Boxee Box (made by D-Link), which was the most open of the Netflix compatible devices at the time. Since we have an older TV I ordered an HDMI to Composite /S-Video Converter so I could use regular audio/S-Video analog inputs. Since that time Netflix has been made available on Android and other Google Devices, so I also watch on my ASUS Transformer, Google Nexus 1 and Rina watches on her Google Chromebook.

This is not the ideal in that these devices are all infected in some way with non-owner locks, but they are far more free/open market than what Rogers was offering.

Obviously not all television we previously watched will be available online through Netflix or the websites of the networks. That is fine, as we have far more TV and movies available to us than we have time to watch. We may now allocate the time to -- gasp -- read books :-)

For those making TV shows who aren't distributing online, please recognize that we aren't alone in what we are doing. If you want us to be audiences for your content then you need to make it available to us in a format we are interested in.

I'm hoping some of the speciality networks will look into this. I'd love to have a more full online version of the Space network which would stream online at the same time as the television. I might also consider HBO if that were available to me, as I keep hearing about interesting shows.

Interesting to me would be if Netflix moved into offering premium content. They are already creating original content, and I can predict when Netflix Canada generates and distributes more Canadian content than the so-called "Canadian" broadcasters (with the exception of CBC -- for however long they will remain around). A distribution deal between Netflix and HBO seems quite obvious to me.

I don't mind paying a premium for this type of service, and I suspect there would be a market for this if it is made available using appropriate technology. And by appropriate technology, I mean on the devices I own. As an example, I'm never going to own an Apple product, so if you are like CBC that sends some content only to the Apple iTunes then you aren't relevant to me. If you want to maximize your revenue and audiences you will move away from closed content delivery platforms, and enable your services to work on every device.

To those who still think DRM has anything to do with reducing copyright infringement, remember that the output of my set-top setup is analog video. I can plug the output directly into a VCR/PVR as people have been able to do for decades, meaning Netflix and the online video made available by Canada's television networks have no more "copy control" than any other television programming did since the 1980's and VCRs were first being sold to consumers. All that these technological measures which tie access to specific brands of technology do is reduce audiences (and thus revenue), not reduce infringement.

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