Watching TV through cable versus internet: how long will we pay for convenience?

With great internet services like Hulu (European readers: see this image) that help you to “Watch your favorites. Anytime. For Free”  you must have been wondering why we still pay for cable TV? The answer is: convenience.

The fact that cable prices are still going up (at least here in NYC) will for sure help to accelerate  the transition as more and more consumers will try to find alternatives to reduce the large amount of dollars we pay to cable companies every month. Example:  in New York City, USD 111.95 per month will give you internet and cable TV at Time Warner Cable… that is a lot for convenience… especially knowing that virtually all TV shows you would like to watch are available on Hulu.com. In fact: you do not even need a hard drive recorder since all the shows are available on Hulu for quite a long time. If  news is your cup of tea then you just go to e.g cnn.com to watch Live TV. It is all there… on the net… for free!

So, you are convinced that paying for convenience is kind of weird since you can get it all for free on the net? Read further…

Things are still a bit complicated. Last year it was possible to use media center software (boxee) to stream Hulu content on an Apple TV box connected to your TV. Unfortunately the pleasure was for short: content providers did not want their video to go straight to the TV…  As with everything I am sure that hackers, plugin writers will fix this issue and as a bonus will be able to get the Hulu desktop (image) on your media box. I think it is just a matter of time…

Now, once you can use Hulu on your Apple TV or an other media box you might wonder: would Hulu’s 480p content do any good on a 40inch screen? I think you have a point there. The alternative is easy: buy HD content for 2.99USD an episode on iTunes.

Let’s do the math to see how much convenience is worth:
– random internet connection through provider, 25USD per month
– AppleTV, USD 299, (let’s say: 13USD per month over two years)
With a 110USD Time Warner Cable contract you can still buy 24 HD episodes of your favorite TV shows or rent about 18 movies before you would spend more than your current fixed costs!

When will you switch to free?

Virgin Megastore (almost) gone from NYC – digital era starts officially!

Virgin Megastore Union SquareVirgin Megastore is leaving New York City and the USA altogether! To me this truly marks the end of the physical music era and the beginning of digital for the masses. Surely, digital music sales have gone up for a long time already and many (independent) music stores have closed over the last years but the fact that Virgin stepping out is a big thing. Virgin did after all start as a record shop called Virgin Records and Tapes!

Personally I am sad that Virgin Megastore is soon no-more. Why? I just loved going there to browse around, touch the physical CDs/DVDs and above all watching people in the store. Did I buy in the store? Yes! I found myself buying every time I came to the store. Will I continue buying physical CDs/DVDs? Yes! That is for most albums… I just really like to rip CDs in the quality I want. The most important part of a physical CD is however for me the album art work and the booklet.

Thinking about the art work: when moving from the big Long Play records to the small CDs I felt a bit similar: nothing was going to beat the big cover and booklet. It just was part of the whole music experience. And it was art! I somehow learned to live with the small CD booklets and so, maybe I will learn to live with digital art too.

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