I was driving in Orlando the other day when I hear a very strange commercial on the radio. It was from Bright House (a cable company) and was a message to their customers. Apparently they are having a contract disagreement with the company that owns a local TV station. As a result, that channel (an NBC affiliate) has been replaced with the feed from another NBC channel from Pennsylvania! I know it must have been very confusing for our local residents to all of a sudden to be seeing the local news from up north. lol
I also heard over the weekend that Viacom (another big content company) is having contract issues with Dish Network. Dish Network customers cannot currently get Comedy Central, MTV plus some other channels. There however is a delicious twist to this story. Viacom has also turned off the online rebroadcasts of the various shows carried on those networks! Customers are really cut off.
So what is going on here? What you are seeing is the natural course of Disaggregation. This is my pet theory to explain the effect the Internet has on society. Structures that were aggregated based on physical location are being disaggregated into new structures based on information and interests. Cable companies were the entities that laid all the cable, setup the networks and such. Content companies then sold them their shows. What is important to understand is that until the Internet, both sides of the equation needed each other fairly equally. Now it’s not the case anymore. While the cable business is a huge market, I’m pretty sure they all know the writing is on the wall. Content creators are able to put their shows online thus escaping the cable monopoly. (ok it’s not quite a monopoly but they have a lot of clout).
So what is happening is that content providers are starting to jack up their prices because they think they have the cable companies over a barrel. (which they do IMHO).
Where this gets really interesting is to look at other systems in which you can disaggregate the content from the delivery system. Like schools…