If there’s one thing we’ve all learned in the business world, it’s that technology can knock you down faster than a punch to the jaw. And it feels more painful.
Streaming video put Blockbuster out of business. Digital photography made Kodak irrelevant.
Now we have to wonder about cable TV, especially Time Warner Cable. As we’ve said many times, the content developers – TV networks and movie studios – are realizing they don’t need the middle man. They can provide content to the viewer themselves. Or, they can simply go through Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, iTunes or their own apps and websites.
All those market forces threaten the survival of the cable companies and the slowest to adapt will be the ones who will be falling down the Blockbuster/Kodak rabbit hole.
We’re seeing that now with Time Warner Cable.
Recently, HBO released an app called “HBO GO,” in which the entire HBO library is available to those who have an HBO subscription. Right now, it is available to most cable subscribers – except those who subscribe to Time Warner Cable. News reports say that negotiations are continuing, but the stubbornness of Time Warner Cable – not to be confused with Time Warner, which does own HBO, but the cable system is a different company – will eventually lead content providers like HBO to simply bypass it.
What’s to prevent HBO from simply delivering the content straight to your iPad with its own iPad subscription? Right now, it’s only contracts with the cable companies. It’s only a matter of time until HBO or The NFL Network – which also has failed to reach agreement with TWC – bypass cable systems altogether or negotiate contracts that allow them to reach the consumer directly.
Already, with certain mobile systems, you can get a version of DirectTV’s NFL package straight to your mobile device or computer by simply paying a fee. Think about the implications of that now that we live in the age of Internet-equipped televisions. Already, a handful of Stealing Share employees have canceled their TWC subscriptions and now simply watch content through those Internet-equipped TVs.
Being shortsighted, stubborn and the last to adapt to market and technology is what brought Blockbuster and Kodak down. The cable systems, especially TWC, are coming strikingly close to performing the same pratfall.