I heard that y’all are getting a new season of Red Dwarf sometime this year.
Specifically, I heard it in the middle of the night from one of my mates when the announcement was first leaked. Eduardo is an unrepentant Red Dwarf fan and was so giddy at the prospect of another season that he woke me up at 3am to share the news. That’s probably why I got tetchy with him and reminded him that he’d never get to see the new season here in the USA, since his favourite show has never (for whatever reason) been broadcast over here.
That’s an annoyance that a “smart” television can’t solve. My family has more content access devices than we have screens in the house, including two Apple TV pods, a Google Chromecast pod, a DVR, and two digital cable TV controllers. Heck, even our PlayStation and DVD player have the Netflix and Hulu television service apps loaded on them. The only reason that we have all of these gadgets is to get access to television content, since no two devices can access all of the shows that we want to see.
I can see Game Of Thrones over our cable service, but our cable company flatly refuses to let us stream it with HBO’s app. I can get Top Gear and Orphan Black via cable as well, but only by paying them triple for an expanded channel package. If I want to see Attack On Titan, I can only get it through my Netflix subscription. Until recently, the only way that I could see an Al Jazeera newscast was to stream it from the channel’s website. To really add insult to injury, the only way to watch Channel 4’s 10 O’Clock Live has been to fly to the UK and then stream it from channel4.com.
A modern television set is smart enough to display darned near anything that we can feed it, from analog to HD, from American to Japanese, and everything in between. It used to be that if you wanted to watch an American-only TV show on your British TV (or vice versa), you had to buy an illegal bootleg copy, or invest in a universal VCR. We’ve done away with the device incompatibility problem by addressing broadcast formats with smarter software-based player apps. We should be able to see everything from all over the world without difficulty. We can’t, though, and that’s deliberate.
This is the future of connected TV, folks – an ever-increasing number of commercial aggregators that force us all to pay them exorbitant fees to access their incomplete and overlapping collections of content. It’s infuriating. Eventually, if this trend continues, TVs and PCs alike will sport an iTunes-like interface where we’re told to purchase each episode of each show that we want to see, each time that we want to see it.
It’s the vending machine future for us. That, or we come full-circle back to the bootleg approach. A lot of otherwise-regular citizens are giving up on traditional television entirely and have started pirating content. There’s a good reason why the finale to season four of HBO’s Game Of Thrones was the most pirated television show ever.
Game Of Thrones is great content, but it’s restricted and expensive. Viewers are exhausted from all of the unnecessary, burdensome, and extortionist hoops that they have to jump through just to watch a single hour of television. In June, seven and a half million people said “I give up” and became copyright criminals… for a TV show. That’s not the future that anyone wants.
Keil Hubert is a retired U.S. Air Force ‘Cyberspace Operations’ officer, with over ten years of military command experience. He currently consults on business, security and technology issues in Texas. He’s built dot-com start-ups for KPMG Consulting, created an in-house consulting practice for Yahoo!, and helped to launch four small businesses (including his own).
Keil’s experience creating and leading IT teams in the defense, healthcare, media, government and non-profit sectors has afforded him an eclectic perspective on the integration of business needs, technical services and creative employee development… This serves him well as Business Technology’s resident U.S. blogger.