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The Balkanization of Streaming TV

May 14, 2010 | Author: Ibex Marketing

Would you like to watch your favorite TV shows online? Many of them are available with full episodes that you can stream to your computer or television. Isn’t that convenient? Well, maybe.

The problem is that you have to go to different sites to see different shows. Sure, many of them are on Hulu, but many are not. You may have to go to the network site to find your shows, such as “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”. HBO has its own site,, where subscribers can access some shows, and according to a Bloomberg report, CBS is apparently preparing a similar site for Showtime subscribers. And then you have all the subscription TV services — cable and satellite — working to create their own individual “TV Everywhere” services that would let their subscribers access shows there.

Each site has its own registration and login requirements. Each has its own user interface and way of organizing the content. Each has a different way of presenting the content and commercials, if any. (And some are much better than others at this.)

This is all fine for the early adopters who are willing to jump through the hoops to get what they want from these different services, but it’s not going to fly for the average consumer. Eventually, we’re going to have to gravitate toward a single aggregator service — much like the traditional terrestrial television broadcast spectrum system — where consumers can go to find the content that they want. I expect that this will happen eventually, as a service like Hulu obtains a critical mass of content and viewers, leaving the content providers no choice but to either join or leave their programming out in the wasteland where nobody can find it.

That day can’t come soon enough for me.