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Cable cos. face reckoning as Web streaming takes over
[May 13, 2013]

Cable cos. face reckoning as Web streaming takes over

May 13, 2013 (Boston Herald - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- The bad news just keeps coming for the cable companies -- and their near-monopoly on content delivery.

Netflix is making a new push to produce and deliver critically acclaimed shows, with its successful series "House of Cards" and the upcoming revival of cult favorite "Arrested Development." This month, a fledgling production company re-launched two daytime soaps that had been canceled by ABC. "One Life to Live" and "All My Children," formerly the longest running daytime serials on TV, are now available for Apple users on iTunes, to subscribers of Hulu and through a web site,

A bold experiment in Internet-distributed television shows is beginning to play out. Television streaming on the Web has already gained widespread adoption. Accepting the Web as a replacement for cable is a natural next step.

Gaming consoles are uniquely positioned to get into the business of content production and delivery as well, with the Xbox 720 and Sony Playstation 4 expected to reach stores by the end of the year.

Adding to this critical mass of alternative content distributors is Amazon. The company's shareholders have been so deferential to the leadership that they'd throw their support behind a new Amazon television channel in a heartbeat.

Internet-connected HDTVs are exploding into the mainstream, and by 2017, as many as 66 million U.S. households -- or 54 percent -- will access the Internet with either a gaming console or connected TV, according to Forrester Research.

At that point, even a technophobe will be able to easily play Internet shows on their living room television, seamlessly mimicking, and eventually replacing, the current viewing experience.

Harvard University visiting professor and liberal telecom expert Susan Crawford writes in her new book "Captive Audience" that our nation's cable companies comprise the biggest oligopoly since the breakup of Standard Oil.

But we won't need the U.S. Supreme Court to step in and break up cable conglomerates the way it did the oil trust in 1911. They'll get less popular. And then, smaller.

Since the advent of high-speed Internet, cable companies have carved out regional monopolies on connectivity and content delivery. But 2013 is shaping up to be the year that consumers start to send a message to those companies: You can't have both anymore.

___ (c)2013 the Boston Herald Visit the Boston Herald at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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