We’ve all been waiting for this day ever since the very first cable box appeared a few decades ago. The time when we, The People, dictate the type of content we consume without having to be force-fed television from major cable TV provides. Cable companies have always scoffed at the notion of A La Carte programming. Sure, you can purchase pay per view television shows and movies, but you have to be a subscriber of their services to begin with. Yet with the Internet, A La Carte is here and is being served hot and fresh from providers other than your local cable TV company. So this begs the question? Are the cable TV companies screwed?
Internet Programming Providers
Here is a list of current and emerging Internet TV providers. These are great alternatives to local programming, as you can pick and choose the same shows you want to watch. Some of these are free. Some of these are paid services that allow you to pay for only the programming you watch, potentially saving you hundreds of dollars a month.
Hulu – Hulu has been around for a few years and have drastically improved their streaming content service. They provide this service for free with very limited commercials. There is a wide variety of content, from movies and television shows to movie trailers.
AOL Video – AOL hasn’t completely abandoned their ISP services, but they have branched out into specialized services. AOL Video is one of those services. They have tons of channels and shows and the quality is quite good. Very limited commercials, as well.
Fancast – Fancast aggregates content from Hulu. It has a nice, clean interface which makes it easy to find the content you want.
Netflix – The hot mail DVD service has been streaming movies online for the past few years. The implementation of this is flawless and you can find them on your computer or third-party boxes such as the Roku box. They even have Apps for portable devices such as the iPhone and iPad. To view this content, however, you do need to be a subscriber to their service.
Apple TV - The Apple TV is a new box about the side of a hockey puck. It interfaces with your TV and allows you to purchase TV shows and movies from their online store for cheap. This is the closest thing to A La Carte TV you’ll find. Depending on how much TV you watch, however, you could end up spending more for this than your standard cable fees.
These services have proven that users no longer need the pricey cable subscription channels anymore. But since most of the cable TV providers are also our Internet providers, this could mean some type of tiered service down the line where those that consume a lot of Internet video will need to pay more for their service. If this were to happen, your Internet bill would offset their losses from the cable TV media. Either way, the cable companies will learn how to adapt and survive as cable TV goes the way of the newspaper industry.