2013: A la carte TV issues bubble over

10 Jan
Will an Apple television finally become reality in 2013?

Will an Apple television finally become reality in 2013?

Wouldn’t it be great if we could subscribe to only the television channels we want, rather than having to pay for a whole bunch of crap that we don’t?

Yes indeed, and people have been saying so for ages. This year, it’s either finally going to happen – or there’s going to be a big fight over why it isn’t happening.

Apple watchers (myself included) spent a good portion of 2012 sitting on their hands and waiting for the company’s promised foray into the television market. With the late Steve Jobs telling his biographer that he had finally “cracked” how to do a TV and current chief executive Tim Cook repeatedly saying it’s an area of “intense interest,” it’s been more of a question of when and how rather than if.

Yet, it didn’t happen, reportedly because Apple was having trouble in licensing negotiations with content owners. Recent rumblings have included both Intel and Sony, who are both reportedly interested in offering similar televisions but are encountering the same roadblocks.

Here in the frozen north, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission officially ruled last summer that television providers were to implement a-la-carte programming options for customers, yet outside of a few small pockets, it has yet to happen. Rogers had been testing such a system in London, Ont., but at an event last month, an executive said the company was finding the same difficulties as Apple, Intel and Sony in licensing negotiations. Content owners were wanting too much money for individual channels, he said.

Put all that together and it means things are coming to a head. Consumers clearly want individualized channels and shows, which the internet is providing. If big, powerful companies such as Apple and Sony can’t make a dent with content owners, they’re likely to start making some very public noise about the situation, which will attract regulators and politicians.

With any luck, a-la-carte channels will either become a reality in 2013, or the ground-work for a 2014 arrival will be laid.


Posted by on January 10, 2013 in apple, intel, rogers, sony, television


5 responses to “2013: A la carte TV issues bubble over

  1. A la carte before the horse

    January 10, 2013 at 12:29 am

    I don’t want a la carte channels, I don’t even want a la carte programs. I want a la carte episodes. Why should I pay for stuff I don’t watch. Many channels have one decent program on. Don’t make me pay for all their other crap.

    If I can buy down to the episode granularity then I can choose to see what the reviews are for last night’s episode and decide if I want to view it. So yup, that means content providers publish their shows that I can download anytime. And don’t yank it off the net in a couple weeks. Once it’s published, it’s permanent.

    Then I need to be able to choose between commercial-free and advertising supported shows. For the former, I don’t want to pay the ridiculous $2 per episode Apple charges for a 22 minute show. For the latter, advertising supported shows should be free but that will probably mean that the fast-forward control is disabled for the commercials so they can’t be skipped. No problem, I’ll just mute and read something on my iPad.

    Netflix is pretty decent for old TV shows. I can watch a whole season, or several seasons if I finally succumb to all the pleas of my friends to watch a show. If Netflix also carried current season’s episodes, maybe delayed a week, it would be killer.

    Actually, forget all that. I’ll read a book.

  2. Marc Venot

    January 10, 2013 at 2:41 am

    At the last news Apple is said to team up with Disney (as they did on Pixar). I also guess that the new generation of consoles coming mid year will shake things a lot.

  3. russellmcormond

    January 10, 2013 at 11:51 am

    Sad that the Entertainment Industry blocks options for audiences to pay them, and then whines to the government about losses that they have caused themselves. I suspect that refusing to deal a-la-carte (channels, programs, episodes, etc) in a device-neutral manner has cost them far more than any impact copyright infringement ever could.

    I’m proud that I don’t have Cable/Satellite, and I’m not alone in being annoyed with the BDU and telecom sector. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to pay for content, but if I don’t want to pay money to antiquated BDU’s then it is up to the content industry to join the new millennium and offer their content device-neutral in other ways.

    Note: The per-episode price on iTunes doesn’t affect me — even if they were free I wouldn’t be willing to “own” an Apple device.

    • A la carte before the horse

      January 10, 2013 at 11:57 am

      You raise another good point. I used iTunes as an example because that’s the ecosystem I’m in, but the programs need to be available to all major platforms at the same time and price.

  4. ponder

    January 11, 2013 at 4:02 pm

    It’s going to be really difficult here with vertical integration. And if OTT providers get into the game (like Sony and Intel are proposing), the distributors can just raise the rate of broadband / impose data caps (which they already do) to offset for their losses on the broadcast distribution front. They can also raise the cost of content that they own (like sports content). Canadians will always have to pay one way or another. One saving grace would have been cheaper and faster wireless internet, but Rogers and Bell dominate the wireless business too (and it definitely ain’t cost-effective). I guess the last option for Canadians is Google coming up here and building a network. It’s really sad and shows the state of affairs in Canada. Somebody really messed up in setting Bell and Rogers up as the gatekeepers for access to information in Canada. They get to set the tolls.

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