Fuck cable, right guys? It’s the worst. Hulu Plus? It’s fine, but with a few notable exceptions, it’s mostly filler. And Netflix, try as it might, isn’t really TV—at least not for viewers unwilling to live a couple of seasons in the past.
Well, Netflix is working on that delay thing. And yes, the option of just stealing whatever you want with relatively little lag time is there. But that line can get blurry, especially when it comes to underdog shows that really could use all the legitimate ratings they can get. (Game Of Thrones will be fine.) So what will the future of TV look like? Will we still be cursing at cable companies in the year 2050? Will Netflix’s algorithm have advanced to the point of automatically generating original content based on individual viewers’ deepest hopes and fears?
Sony and Verizon have a slightly different vision, although theirs will still unfortunately involve holding for the next Comcast customer care representative. Sony recently inked a pact with cable giant Viacom to secure content from 22 Viacom channels for its cloud-based TV subscription service. Sony’s service will be live (no lag time) and Internet-based, at a lower cost than current cable packages. That means you’ll still be streaming, but rather than individual programs there will be actual channels to surf. Dish Network is developing a similar service with programming agreements with Disney and A+E, and Verizon is hoping to launch its Internet TV service by mid-2015.
The major difference from cable as we know it, according to Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam, is that Internet TV won’t force you to pay for a bunch of channels you don’t want in order to get the handful of channels that you do. “No one wants to have 300 channels on your wireless,” he tells Deadline. “Everyone understands it will go to a la carte. The question is what does that transition look like.” That question is largely dependent on who ends up with the best roster of channels for consumers to choose from—because if you have to subscribe to one service for AMC and another for Comedy Central, you might as well be paying for shows individually. Or just using somebody’s HBO Go password; they don’t really mind.