“TV Everywhere” is the moniker given by subscription video services to their attempts to let their subscribers watch their content through a streaming connection over the Internet. It makes sense; if I’m already paying for the content, why can’t I “tune in” over a broadband connection to see whatever my set top box can deliver?
It’s a nice idea, but it raises some thorny issues. Are the cable (and satellite and phone) companies distributing the content over the Internet, which could be an unlicensed use of the content? And what about security? Can the services guarantee that the content won’t leak out so that everyone can access it?
DISH Network has announced plans for another way to untie this knot. They will simply include Sling Box functionality in subscriber set top boxes (and retrofits to some existing set top boxes) that will allow individual subscribers to “dial into” their own set top box over the Internet. And if that box includes DVR functions, then they’ll be able to access that recorded content as well.
This plan is made easier by the fact that DISH Network’s parent company, EchoStar, bought Sling Box, which keeps it all in the family. And since it’s a point-to-point connection to equipment in the subscriber’s home, it’s not the same as making program streams available from the company’s servers. This certainly could serve as a model for making broadband access to broadcast video content available on a subscription basis. It remains to be seen whether consumers will choose this arrangement, or will vote with their dollars for some other configuration.