TMCnet Feature
May 24, 2012

Subscription TV Might Face Challenges Other than Price

By Gary Kim, Contributing Editor

Subscription TV services are said to be under siege for a number of reasons: cost is seen to be out of line, as well as a simple lack of compelling value for a seemingly growing number of people.

Nick Bilton’s experience might not be so unusual these days, and may illustrate a new trend, different from the apparent Millennial reluctance to pay for subscription TV.

“Every night, I get home from work, drop onto the couch and sit there surfing the Web or watching videos on my 3-1/2 inch iPhone (News - Alert) screen,” he said. “My big-screen HDTV sits powered off on the other side of the room. What is broken is the entire television experience.”

Why television isn’t more like a tablet app is more or less the dilemma.

Speculation about a possible new Apple (News - Alert) TV almost inevitably yields speculation about how Apple could revolutionize linear TV.

Some think a different approach to content would also be necessary.

The theory is that no matter what Apple, for example, might be able to come up in the physical attributes of the display, its packaging or user navigation, the crucial matter is that the content experience – though integrating online with linear subscription and broadcast TV – might not be revolutionary enough to suit either Apple's approach to product development or the market.

James McQuivey of Forrester (News - Alert) Research advocates a new Apple product that combines the advantages of an iPad with the form factor of a television, and is placed somewhere central to a family to accompany – not replace – a TV.

The argument, here, is that to sell a device providing a dedicated amount of content worldwide, Apple needs to have some control over what’s offered.

Instead of engaging with TV networks and content providers the world over, Apple can maintain a platform where creators share media and software directly, using its app marketplace.

That may or may not ultimately prove decisive, but the notion that the content relationships are crucial – not just changing form factors, creating new navigation methods or integrating online content – is correct.

It is TV as a medium that might need revolution – not just the size and shape of the display, the method of navigation or the ability to integrate online content sources.

Edited by Braden Becker
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