Cable is Dead. Period. And FIOs and Satellite TV Had Better Watch It, Too.

Happy Yom Kippur!

As sit before my computer, creating a post while watching that rare – and somewhat bizarre film, “The Saragossa Manuscript” (Polish, 1965). From the IMBD website:

In the Napoleonic wars, an officer finds an old book that relates his grandfather’s story, Alfons van Worden, captain in the Walloon guard. A man of honor and courage, he seeks the shortest route through the Sierra Morena. At an inn, the Venta Quemada, he sups with two Islamic princesses. They call him their cousin and seduce him; he wakes beside corpses under a gallows. He meets a hermit priest and a goatherd; each tells his story; he wakes again by the gallows. He’s rescued from the Inquisition, meets a cabalist and hears more stories within stories, usually of love. He returns to Venta Quemada, the women await with astonishing news.

So I’m watching a weird and obscure film. So what? Well, considering that it’s a film that is:

1) rarely, if ever shown in a cinema (I happen to see it at the Prince in Philadelphia, PA back in 2002);

2) Is one of those films that doesn’t get too many DVD sales;

3) is NEVER seen on cable, and is hard to find even on iTunes;

…and yet I am now watching it on YouTube – the entire 2 hour 55 minutes. In the original polish with English tag lines. For free. At my leisure, on a big 60″ screen at my home during a holiday.

Cable is flawed technology: it’s based upon the old Token Ring technology developed by IBM in the late 1970’s / early 1980’s for computer networks. Sure, there have been some improvements but the fact remains, the security on a token ring system is not too hard to penetrate (ah, fond memories of my younger days ‘scamming’ and ‘cracking’ into HBO for our free cable shows!) (Thanks to the Highland Avenue Gang).

Now enter Verizon’s FIO’s. Cool; debonair: FIOs is to James Bond as Cable is to Sheriff Andy Taylor of Mayberry PD: nice guy and somebody we’re all familiar with, but who’s going to be better able to beat the bad guys and get the really hot chicks?

And now the real meat of the situation: FIOs is also flawed: it’s merely cable but in a different technology (and for that matter, so is satellite TV).

Let’s face it: you sign up and get some 400+ channels (whoopee!) – but do you really see these channels?


Chances are you’re more likely to focus on shows and topics of interest, rather than channels. Channels are merely an ends to a means: you’re likely going to spend more time bouncing around looking for those older episodes of “The Big Bang Theory” regardless of what channel they’re on, rather than “gee, I’ll just sit here and watch anything that appears on channel whatever” (to be sure, there are the Food Channel fanatics or maybe the SciFi – excuse me, SyFy channel – people, but frankly, it get’s tiring watching Lake Placid Part 18).

Now, enter the wireless realm and the direct linking of hardware through a truly uniform series of software platforms ala Apple.

As Apple has demonstrated for the past several years, it’s all about the ecology, stupid: you’re no longer buying hardware for the sake of hardware: you’re buying systems for the sake of platform – but to the Nth degree. When you buy an Apple system, you’re buying into iTunes, music, movies, phone services / apps as well as hardware and software (Lutz prediction #467: be wary of Apple, for in the coming years, chances are they will also become yet another Evil Monopoly – but for now, it’s pretty cool).

And where does that leave cable and FIOS? Sure, Verizon sells phones, but there’s no there there – no ecology: it’s just hardware. I buy Verizon for generic transmission services (I note that when I had cable I could tell when the late night action was going on and folks were busy downloading their porn: the service got r-e-a-l-l-y S-L-O-W) but not for anything else. The pricing for FIOs movie’s is now being matched by Apple TV – along with the number of movies.

Regardless, Apple is not the entire solution, but they are on to something.

And add into this mix the odd bits and truly make this stew into something really tasty: the latest efforts by Nigerian and other African expat’s who, while abroad and homesick for movies, they turn to,…YouTube. And YouTube has been rather cool about all of this, allowing folks to download entire film libraries for viewing. So, if you’re abroad, and want to watch a Bollywood special, you can – for free. More are following suite. So why should I bother to worry about where I have my copy of the The Saragossa Manuscript” when I can upload it on YouTube and view it anywhere I can so long as I have Internet access?

For free.

As the great (and sadly, largely forgotten) media sage Marshall McLuhan once said, “The medium is the message.”

Get the picture?

1 thought on “Cable is Dead. Period. And FIOs and Satellite TV Had Better Watch It, Too.

  1. welutz Post author

    Reblogged this on shockwaveriderblog and commented:

    An oldie but a goody,… I was recently asked to give advice regarding a municipal wireless system during which I spoke at length on how the traditional ISP’s / Cable / FIO’s people are going to face some serious changes in the way they do business – and with that, entities such as municipal wireless networks or other forms of cooperatives may find themselves more and more in the drivers seat when it comes to negotiating service terms.



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