Cable companies should fear Apple

TV services are broken and suck! Shows are all over the place on different services. Some are available to stream while others are not. You can download some to your mobile devices while other channels wont allow it. If you don’t live in the US packages can become very expensive depending on the shows you want to watch.

It used to be that TV programming was on at a certain time. If you wanted to watch you had to watch at that time. Then people got busy and technology stepped in with DVR/PVRs. We could now record our shows and watch them anytime we wanted. A couple of years ago I had service with Bell here in Canada. I called them up and asked if it was possible to download the shows to my iPhone or iPad so I could watch them when it was convenient for me. The shows were already recorded on my DVR I didn’t see why it wouldn’t be possible but I couldn’t. If I wanted to watch anything recorded on my DVR. I had to connect my mobile device to the service via the internet using up my data plan in the process. A couple years later and now I have TiVo. I can download some programs from my DVR to my mobile devices to watch offline. I can also connect my Netflix account and watch Netflix content from within the TiVo app. Except there are still some channels that don’t allow me to download shows, stream shows on my mobile devices, or watch shows on my mobile when I’m away from home. It is painfully slow to download shows to my devices and the interface sucks.

Many in the industry compare Apple’s meetings with TV company execs to the music industry long ago. Torrents have existed for years. Except that the process is not something the average computer user can do easily. First you search on different sites for the torrent and when you find it an application starts the download of the file. It doesn’t sound difficult but the searching is the hard part. If you are searching for something popular it’s pretty easy. If you’re searching for something old or not as popular it becomes more difficult. The fact that there are many different sites with different torrents is what makes it more difficult. I remember when the filesharing software Morpheus first hit. I would go to a friend’s house and Morpheus was running with hundreds of songs downloading. Why was it so big? Simple, it was easy to use. A user installed the software, did a search and choose from the massive list that showed up. The files were qued and just downloaded one after the other. Everything was all in one application and simple, anyone could use it.

Right now TV execs are bathed in cash and have all the control. They are afraid of Apple and what making a deal might mean down the road. Except I can see two scenarios the TV execs might want to think about. The first is that someone will develop file sharing software that is easy to use for downloading TV shows and movies. It will hit the mainstream and there will be record numbers of “cord cutters”. Sure there will be legal cases but the damage will already be done. There is a reason HBO’s Game of Thrones is the most pirated show. Imagine that back in the day when filesharing software exploded in the mainstream. The only missing ingredients right now is an easily searchable source and an easy to use application. An all in one package hitting the mainstream…

The next possible scenario I could see is that Apple buys Disney. Apple has BILLION$ in the bank. Disney owns Marvel, Star Wars, ESPN, ABC, A&E Networks and Pixar. Marvel a company that has been around since the 50s. A catalogue of superheros and a studio that makes the highest grossing superhero movies. The Marvel Netflix shows are the main reason many fans have the service. Star Wars is in a realm of its own when it comes to fans. Pixar another studio that puts out hit after hit in the animated movie space. Apple would own all of that and then it would be time for the fear to set in. What are the things Apple could do with those entities on their AppleTV platform? What kind of exclusives could they wield? How would the meetings go with TV execs at that time? Be afraid, be very afraid!