Á la carte Media

Video Options

In 2000 I cancelled my phone landline because I was carrying a cellular phone that antiquated my physically fixed, low-tech, voicemail-less and (at the time) expensive land-line. Amongst my friends they considered an interesting, but quirky idea to only have a cellphone. Today one in four households in the US are strictly wireless.

So back to media. Why should I pay a 200% cost to view media on a fixed schedule - even though I have a cable DVR for an additional $15/month that still adheres to an antiquated idea of recording only when a program is shown. I have the ability to access on demand, mobile, high-quality media when and where I choose to watch it, free of time constraints.

In addressing this potential, the concept of carrying forward the "rental" model, in both price and usage restrictions, is laughable. If I can't sell or lend the media, why not just stream it to me on demand and ensure that your licensing costs are met on volume.

Of course, my options on what I can subscribe to are limited. Through NetFlix I can watch movies and some television series - Hulu has another set of programs and Hulu Plus will make older archives more available through more devices. But as we approach the Fall season and popular US based sports start - ESPN allows me to watch some sporting events online - but will they start charging? Will home cooking shows, or other nice networks start their own online subscriptions - each for $10 per month?

We could quickly end up paying much more in á la carte programming if we pay per subscription - something that "cable packages" tried to address by bundling together stations at a discount price. However they suffered from the choice to toss in the lesser watched channels to encourage the edge customers or beef up station count numbers for advertising.

So while we're entering a time of on-demand, individualized stations we have the liklihood of higher overall costs. I already pay much more in internet access across all of my devices than I ever did for cable alone. But the improved access and enjoyment of that media will allow me to choose and indicate the value of accessing that media - when and how I choose to.


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About the Author

Andrew Turner is an advocate of open standards and open data. He is actively involved in many organizations developing and supporting open standards, including OpenStreetMap, Open Geospatial Consortium, Open Web Foundation, OSGeo, and the World Wide Web Consortium. He co-founded CrisisCommons, a community of volunteers that, in coordination with government agencies and disaster response groups, build technology tools to help people in need during and after a crisis such as an earthquake, tsunami, tornado, hurricane, flood, or wildfire.