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The Future of Web Video At Stake In Comcast-NBC Regulatory Review

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the keep-your-grubby-mitts-off-my-htpc dept.

Television 121

Phoghat writes with this excerpt from the Washington Post: "It won't be long before video from the Internet is always within reach — whether it's on a smart phone, a tablet computer or a high-end television in your living room. But what if there's nothing worth watching? ... Regulators are pushing for tough conditions to ensure that Comcast can't stifle online video services by withholding content or pushing up prices for marquee NBC programs at a time viewers are starting to turn to the Internet for recent movies or the latest episodes of 'Saturday Night Live,' '30 Rock' and other popular TV shows. The concessions they extract from Comcast in its bid for NBC will help determine whether customers can someday realistically drop their cable subscriptions and go online-only for their TV. ... Comcast has been resisting federal regulators' efforts to tear down some of those walls, arguing that those efforts are unnecessary because NBC Universal accounts for about 10 percent of television viewing in the US and less than 10 percent of US box office revenue — and is therefore too small to dictate how the industry will develop."

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121 comments

Regulators taking a Pro-active Role (3, Insightful)

findlawyerdirect (1951888) | more than 3 years ago | (#34540290)

Its good to see regulators taking a pro-active role than a reactive one.

Re:Regulators taking a Pro-active Role (4, Insightful)

beakerMeep (716990) | more than 3 years ago | (#34541018)

If by proactive you mean re-branding "managed services" as net neutrality [arstechnica.com] and patting themselves on the back -- meanwhile blessing ISP throttling, and mobile throttling, [arstechnica.com] thus protecting corporate profit in an industry with already insanely high profit margins, at the expensive of the consumer and innovative companies like netflix... then, uh, yeah.

The FCC needs to wake the hell up and realize they aren't protecting competition in a nascent market but rather protecting the government granted monopolies which stifle innovation and are the very reason the market is still "nascent." This is why the US is so far behind in broadband. [slashdot.org]

Personally I suspect a lot of the news coming out now is orchestrated PR for the policy vote coming on the 21st. I think the FCC is putting out a lot of "we're fighting for the little guy" stories to soften the blow of toothless net neutrality policy that relies on the goodwill of ISPs to act "reasonably" and "transparently"

Re:Regulators taking a Pro-active Role (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34542588)

Citation needed on the insanely high profit margins bit. Comcast's last income statement [yahoo.com] shows a net income of 10% of revenue which hardly seems like a pound of flesh to me.

Not that that makes them saints, but I get a little irritated that everyone tries to make people that they disagree with into monsters.

Re:Regulators taking a Pro-active Role (1)

Even on Slashdot FOE (1870208) | more than 3 years ago | (#34545320)

Citation needed showing that Comcast is not one of the many companies that falsifies their books.

Re:Regulators taking a Pro-active Role (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34541254)

Regulators need to just get out of it they cause more problems and sometimes even stifle technological development (ex. no one was able to use the open radio waves because they were still being used by TV (even though there was Cable, Dish Network, AT&T, and DirecTV all available). Let people tell the companies to stop not government then it is both the choice of the people and the fault of the people for whatever happens.

apple (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 3 years ago | (#34540296)

Right. Because Apple, which had less than 10% market share, has had 0 effect on the computing market, and other related markets, in the last decade, because of a

Re:apple (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34540410)

Right. Because Apple, which had less than 10% market share, has had 0 effect on the computing market, and other related markets, in the last decade, because of a

because of a .... what?!? Dammit! Do I have to wait 'till next week to find out?!? Get the DVD?!?

What!? What ?!?

Re:apple (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 3 years ago | (#34540438)

Actually, I typed more as I waited for preview, then the preview showed up without that little bit, and I changes tabs, came back, and hit submit. Short term memory FTL.

Re:apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34540650)

Short attention span.

Quite common in apple users...

Look! heres something shiny!

Re:apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34541574)

lolz

Re:apple (4, Funny)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 3 years ago | (#34543600)

He was writing a sarcastic post that was ever so slightly derogatory about Apple. His iPhone's Brand Image Integrity Sensor (R) (C) (TM) picked this up and dispatched a team of commandos driving black Priuses and wearing black turtleneck combat vests.

Good thing I don't have any Apple products in my home! The bastards can't get to disregard my previous statements. All is well. Hail Apple and Greatfather Jobs, for he brings glory to all of our iProducts.

Re:apple (1)

swanzilla (1458281) | more than 3 years ago | (#34540460)

Right. Because Apple, which had less than 10% market share, has had 0 effect on the computing market, and other related markets, in the last decade, because of a

Run-on sentence?

One Word: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34540306)

Bribes ( as is done for all other legislation ).

Yours In Washington, D.C.,
Kilgore Trout, C.I.O.

But it's already here!!! (1)

JazzyJ (1995) | more than 3 years ago | (#34540320)

"It won't be long before video from the Internet is always within reach — whether it's on a smart phone, a tablet computer or a high-end television in your living room."

Umm.... I thought video from the internet already was always within reach? I can get to video from the internet via my smartphone, iPad, AND TV already!!!

Re:But it's already here!!! (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34540652)

Well, to be fair, you either do it "illegally" or you wait something like 6 - 15 days after "original airing" to see it (if it was a TV show). Some people don't care about the delay, others do. Obviously the delay is there to "protect" the premium advertising dollars that broadcast TV still pulls in. The question is, will the FCC back Comcast and other broadcasters plans and protect their business model. I think even the Comcast's of the world realize that the days of "broadcast TV" are numbered and that it becomes ludicrous to have "channels" and all with "guides" to what is on at what time as technology progresses such that anything can really be done on-demand (technology wise). It is just that, for now, they see those ad dollars and want to keep the gravy train flowing as long as possible.

Re:But it's already here!!! (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 3 years ago | (#34542332)

Unless you want to pay for TV content on a pay-per-view basis, the ad revenue pretty much has to be protected. Take away the ad revenue and you are going to take away commercially produced content because there will be no revenue.

Happy with only amature content? Hope so, because if the revenue disappears there will be no commercially produced content.

Re:But it's already here!!! (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 3 years ago | (#34545304)

There's a lot to be said for amateur content.

Enforce Separation of Medium from Content (5, Interesting)

timeOday (582209) | more than 3 years ago | (#34540384)

Tim Wu's new book, The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires," is relevant and worth looking at here - if nothing else, read the salon.com review [salon.com] :

Wu, a prominent champion of net neutrality, proposes what he calls "a Separation Principle for the information economy." He wants to see "those who develop information, those who own the network infrastructure on which it travels, and those who control the tools or venues of access ... kept apart from one another." He also wants the government to "keep its distance and not intervene in the market to favor any technology, network monopoly, or integration of the major functions of an information industry."

I'm sure the book is more nuanced than this, but IMHO allowing competitors to control access to each others' content is simply bound to fail, converging at a point advantageous to those who own the toll booths, and bad for almost everybody else and the economy and culture as a whole.

Re:Enforce Separation of Medium from Content (1)

zn0k (1082797) | more than 3 years ago | (#34540656)

> I'm sure the book is more nuanced than this

Have you read it? That's an odd way to phrase things if you had read it, though. But why would you recommend it if you hadn't?

Comcast's Choke Hold (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34540414)

It's not the NBC that worry me, it's Comcast power of a cable provider cutting off other shows from HBO or ESPN for example.

Flawed Assumption (4, Insightful)

retech (1228598) | more than 3 years ago | (#34540430)

"But what if there's nothing worth watching?"
I did not realize the networks had anything worth watching right now.

Re:Flawed Assumption (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34540638)

exactly!

Re:Flawed Assumption (2)

Binestar (28861) | more than 3 years ago | (#34540668)

Chuck, Top Gear, NFL Football, Tosh.0, Robot Chicken (Those are my top 5, not in that order)

Re:Flawed Assumption (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34542466)

Coincidentally, NBC has 3 of my favorites right now -- Community, 30 Rock, and The Office (all of them are uneven, but often have terrific episodes). I would also count Friday Night Lights, though that's a bastard production with DirecTV.

One notable thing is that NBC has a very confusing acceptance of TV's changing world; they allow streaming of the previous episodes on Hulu and Netflix, and their shows offer special online content, but the prices they charge for seasons on iTunes is usually about twice the price of the DVDs. On Black Friday I could have bought Community's 1st season on DVD for around $13 from Amazon, but they charge almost $60 for the HD version on iTunes (which is lower res. than the DVDs) or $40 for the standard def. version. It's as though they're allowing it to be sold on iTunes despite hating iTunes, thus they charge so much so as to discourage sales through that channel -- even though they offer no alternative, similar sales channel. The end result with me is that they've replaced the $20 or so of profit per season they could have gotten from me buying the seasons for the fractions of pennies they've gotten from me watching on network TV, Hulu, or Netflix. It seems really stupid to me, but I'd like to hear if anyone has a more informed view into why they'd do this.

Re:Flawed Assumption (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34540810)

"But what if there's nothing worth watching?"

I did not realize the networks had anything worth watching right now.

Maybe you spend too much time trying to act cool on Slashdot instead of catching some good T.V.

Re:Flawed Assumption (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34540978)

"But what if there's nothing worth watching?"

I did not realize the networks had anything worth watching right now.

Maybe you spend too much time trying to act cool on Slashdot instead of catching some good T.V.

Perhaps he has more of a life than sitting growing fat in front of a television?

Re:Flawed Assumption (1)

Enigma2175 (179646) | more than 3 years ago | (#34543858)

"But what if there's nothing worth watching?"

I did not realize the networks had anything worth watching right now.

Maybe you spend too much time trying to act cool on Slashdot instead of catching some good T.V.

Perhaps he has more of a life than sitting growing fat in front of a television?

Yeah, growing fat in front of a computer is much better. Why do you douchebags [theonion.com] who hate TV so much insist on reading and posting in TV threads?

Re:Flawed Assumption (2)

timeOday (582209) | more than 3 years ago | (#34542078)

Call me crazy, but I like to watch networks' nightly news. It seems to me that because it is so mainstream, and not targeted to much of anybody in particular, that it is more balanced (compared to most Internet news sites). And because they are constrained to a 1/2 hour format, they don't waste so much time on talking heads, and repeating themselves (compared to cable news). Finally the production value is very high; they send people to do onsite reporting, obtain the best footage available, have more access to noteworthy people, etc. Note: this is not a blanket endorsement of everything they do.

Re:Flawed Assumption (1)

noshellswill (598066) | more than 3 years ago | (#34542112)

Har har har ... like byteboyz have a **right** to amuzing videos ? Ha ha ha... Turn off the feckin-A tube. Go take a feckin-A walk in the park. Watch fish-hawks eat . Talk to a gal.

Re:Flawed Assumption (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34545196)

Somewhat watchable shows to add to the list: How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory, Modern Family, Fringe, Bones... and off Comedy Central there's The Daily Show and Colbert Report.

Re:Flawed Assumption (1)

StormReaver (59959) | more than 3 years ago | (#34545326)

I did not realize the networks had anything worth watching right now.

I canceled my Cable and stopped watching all broadcast TV except for the local nightly news (mostly for the weather) more than a year ago. Everything I watch now is either on DVD or Netflix. The sense of enlightenment that comes from curing the affliction of television is not too dissimilar from Neo waking up to the real world for the first time.

Broadcast TV is a cancerous disease that needs to be eradicated for the benefit of society.

Screw this (0)

SilverHatHacker (1381259) | more than 3 years ago | (#34540440)

I think I speak for everyone outside of the US when I say just shut the heck up about how the web is the future of TV until the rest of us can partake of this goodness.

Re:Screw this (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34540558)

Fuck you and your BBC exclusion to the United States.

Sincerely,
Americans tired of American media

Re:Screw this (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#34541882)

Exclusion? I get all the BBC I need off of piratebay.org.

Re:Screw this (1)

imakemusic (1164993) | more than 3 years ago | (#34544252)

Watch the news on there, do you?

Re:Screw this (2)

Chibi Merrow (226057) | more than 3 years ago | (#34541154)

Did anyone else hear something? Hmm... weird... Guess I might have my AWESOME HIGH DEFINITION STREAMING VIDEOS turned up too loud...

P.S. Until BBC starts simulcasting new Dr. Who episodes on their website to the entire world, I could care less what you non-American subhumans think. :)

lolwut (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34542116)

I find it humorous so many of you eurofags will come on here at trashtalk the USA while simultaneously consuming our media at every opportunity and crying whenever you can't get a hit of it.

Admit it, you little bitches love us to death.

Tell ya what... (0)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 3 years ago | (#34542228)

Why don't you come on over the the US, live here long enough to become a citizen and vote, then you get the right to bitch about how the federal government handles US programming for the US

MKay?

What if there's nothing worth watching? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34540448)

I'll tell you, I have over 500 channels of nothing worth watching!

Reminds Me of the First Browser War (2)

4pins (858270) | more than 3 years ago | (#34540450)

How many people choose IE to get at that other 10% of the World Wide Web?

When my wife discovered Netflix streaming I had to switch from Linux to OS-X.

When it comes to accessing information, people will put in some extra time/money/effort.

Re:Reminds Me of the First Browser War (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34540842)

> When my wife discovered Netflix streaming I had to switch from Linux to OS-X

I'm not married (hey, I'm on slashdot...) but I know people who have switched from Linux back to Windows for exactly that reason. Netflix streaming is a deal-breaker for a lot of people if it isn't available.

What we need, IMHO, is for consumers to wake up and realize that using locked down distribution methods does not benefit them in the end, since it removes choice and competition. But it's effectively impossible since that requires distributed agreement among many millions of different parties. So the net effect is a movement towards exactly what you say: people will abandon niche platforms to get that extra 10 or 20%.

I've tried sending letters to Netflix about this, but that seems to do no good at all. I'm afraid of this path towards closed mechanisms happening eventually to the rest of the internet as well. Want to see any web sites at all? Sorry, Linux users, you aren't running a supported platform. Want to send email? Sorry, we no longer support those legacy protocols; you now have to use SuperMailApp++ which has a client only for Windows and maybe, if you're super lucky, OSX.

Bah.

Re:Reminds Me of the First Browser War (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#34541872)

When my wife discovered netflix streaming I bought a $99.00 RoKu box and stuck with linux on everything... Plus it's far better than sitting there watching it on a tiny screen.

Already determined (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34540472)

The concessions they extract from Comcast in its bid for NBC will help determine whether customers can someday realistically drop their cable subscriptions and go online-only for their TV

I've already determined you can. Between the individual network sites, hulu, and netflix, I haven't missed a thing (other than a lot of commercials) by not having cable for the last couple years.

<OffTopicRant>Admins: Posting anon since slash can't seem to keep me logged in. Please put some effort into actually making this site functional.</OffTopicRant>

Re:Already determined (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 3 years ago | (#34540564)

Did you catch the new Futurama series online?

Re:Already determined (1)

RomanesEuntDomus (1094023) | more than 3 years ago | (#34541870)

There's a certain amount of content that you lose by dropping cable/satellite TV, and going Netflix/Hulu. However, the savings of maybe $80+/month sure makes this choice a no-brainer. You could even buy those few series that you lose out on, on DVD so there's really not much of a loss.

I finally persuaded my spouse to drop TV early this year, and we don't miss it one bit.

Re:Already determined (1)

scrib (1277042) | more than 3 years ago | (#34541930)

I second this.

I have an antenna and get the local stations in HD (which is brilliant) and I can watch ESPN3 and ESPN through the Internet, as well as all the other online services. I do have NetFlix for movies and instant. I also have an HDHomeRun to make HD tuners available to any computer on my network.

We actually DID miss cable this weekend when the CBS NFL game we wanted to watch wasn't the one scheduled for this "region." Of course, it wouldn't have been on regular cable either. It would have been the basic cable package PLUS whatever sports package. Conservatively, the ability to watch those extra couple shows I don't see (and miss) would cost over $1000 per year.

Thinking about what I can get for that $1000 feels great, and pays for the drinks when I have to go to a sports bar.

I've convinced a couple light-TV users to ditch cable, buy a computer that'll hook up to their HD TV, and pocket the difference. There hasn't been a complaint or regret yet.

Step Aside (3)

Das Auge (597142) | more than 3 years ago | (#34540574)

The concept of having to wait watch videos at intervals set by a company is so very 1950s. This is the 21st century as we have something called on-demand. Yeah, cable companies do it to a small extent, but not like Netflix does. Combine that with the sub-par quality and speed they provide compared to DSL and they're going to be marginalized in the coming years. Even more so when the over 50 crowd dies.

Much like music and the RIAA, they're going to loose the center stage. Which means that you can expect them to start trying to buy politicians (or using the ones that they've already purchased) to pass laws that try to keep their antiquated method of business alive.

I like this proactive step to prevent that.

Re:Step Aside (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34540640)

DSL is much slower than Cable...

Re:Step Aside (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 3 years ago | (#34540912)

DSL is much slower than Cable...

Not in my neighborhood.

I pay for a 10Gb down / 1.5Gb up DSL connection.
My neighbor pays for a 15Gb down 1Gb up Cable connection.

Average speed tests during peak usage times show 9.5Gb down, 1.5Gb up for me & 7Gb down, 0.5Gb up for him.

In short: My "slow" DSL is faster when it counts: When we actually want to use the Internet. My DSL is cheaper too.

Re:Step Aside (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#34541858)

You have a DSL that is 10Gb? and cable available at 15Gb?

IF you are not in Japan I call raging BS. You cant have home internet that is FASTER than University to university INTERNET II speeds.

Re:Step Aside (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34542896)

You have a DSL that is 10Gb? and cable available at 15Gb?

IF you are not in Japan I call raging BS. You cant have home internet that is FASTER than University to university INTERNET II speeds.

Hee hee. If you change the Gs to Ms, here's a California DSL provider that, unlike the telephone companies, has actually been installing current DSL technology:
  http://sonic.net/solutions/home/internet/fusion/ [sonic.net]

  $39.95 for (up to) 20 Mb/sec DSL2+, month to month, no contract.
  $79.95 for (up to) 40 Mb/sec DSL2+, month to month, no contract.
  Upstream is 1 - 5 Mb/sec.

Both include free telephone service (POTS, not VOIP), unlimited long distance, caller ID, voicemail, plus services like VPN termination, IPv6, IMAP, HTTP/FTP space, Usenet, shell, etc.

Re:Step Aside (4, Interesting)

c0d3g33k (102699) | more than 3 years ago | (#34540784)

Even more so when the over 50 crowd dies.

I was actually enjoying your comment until encountering this bit of prejudicial age-ist nonsense. In my experience, lack of imagination, fear of new things (including technology), and the reluctance/inability to change old habits (or deal with change in general) don't correlate very well with age. Today's youth could very well be in the same boat 30 years from now when their own inflexibility keeps them stuck while the world moves on. But there will be plenty that keep up just fine, regardless of age.

Re:Step Aside (1)

Das Auge (597142) | more than 3 years ago | (#34541274)

My apologies, it wasn't meant to be taken as a derogatory statement. I was referring to the force of habit. These people grew up with only scheduled television, so they'd be most likely to continue using it because it's what they've done the longest.

Just because I wrote something on the Internet doesn't mean I'm a troll. ;)

Re:Step Aside (2)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 3 years ago | (#34541472)

These people grew up with only scheduled television, so they'd be most likely to continue using it because it's what they've done the longest.

Poppycock you whippersnapper. I am 61 years old and my home is fully wired to accept programming from cable, OTA HDTV, shortwave, and streaming over IP. Plus I frequently use streamed media from my own media server or physical media (SACD, DVD-A, CD, DVD or BluRay). My experience is that when a new technology is added it gets incorporated into my life in addition to what I already use. The only things that get dropped or avoided are those that have been supplanted by something with much better performance for the same programming. Think 8-track, VHS, cassette tape, LD, LPs etc.

It would be very nice to dump cable but I haven't found a good substitute for HD broadcasts of live sporting events over cable.

My father, who is 88 is a little behind the curve not having bought into streaming yet but I think he is going to get a HTPC this Christmas.

Live sports channels need to be in there own pack! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34541804)

Live sports channels need to be in there own pack! Like how HBO is in it's own pack!

That is the one thing that you really really need scheduled television for. All the other stuff can move to VOD like on line but DSL speeds are not that good for that / 3G / 4G caps suck for that and the cable co want you to buy the cable tv channels to get there content on line.

I WANT MORE choice and not be forced to buy big channel packs I want theme packs / pick n play.

Re:Step Aside (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 3 years ago | (#34542600)

Poppycock you whippersnapper. I am 61 years old and...

You'd have to be totally disconnected from reality to think that you and your father are a representative sample. You might as well argue that young people don't like current pop music. Sure there is a minority that don't match the profile, but the OP said "most likely" not "always."

Re:Step Aside (1)

zmollusc (763634) | more than 3 years ago | (#34541582)

Dang it, we done had vcrs back in my day, sonny! That's nigh on thirty-five years ago! We knew scheduled television sucked, that is why we bought them expensive u-matic do-hickeys! (Well, that and the sepia films of lady's ankles)

Re:Step Aside (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#34541840)

Ahhh, the venerable VO-1600... I can imagine the lights dimming as that thing spun up the motors. Problem was it could bot schedule recordings, you had to set it's mechanical tuner to the station and press record while you watched something else. Problem was, it never recorded the whole show...Tapes were not long enough for a 1 hour show...

The phillips N-1500 was the first real VCR with a timer....

The pure smearing of the nasty NTSC video.... which you could not tell because broadcast was all smeared and crappy anyways.....

Re:Step Aside (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 3 years ago | (#34543058)

I was actually enjoying your comment until encountering this bit of prejudicial age-ist nonsense

...at which point I spit my prune juice out and shook my cane at the screen. I didn't fight the communists of Hollywood daily for 40 years just to be OFFENDED by something I read on the INTERNET!!!

I'm so mad, I JUST CRAPPED MY PANTS!

Re:Step Aside (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 3 years ago | (#34543614)

Yes, but there are things that younger generations feel differently about - homosexual marriage and recreational drug use, for instance. I can't remember anyone in my high school being against these things other than being opposed to them personally (i.e. "I'll never use drugs, but I don't care if someone else does") or religious reasons ("drugs are bad, gays will burn in hell, yadda yadda").

By the time my generation starts voting more heavily (as they age), most of the people who oppose the things they have nothing against will be dead. It's slow but that's how progress seems to work (at least in the U.S.) from my experience.

Funny you mention it... (2)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34540576)

The concessions they extract from Comcast in its bid for NBC will help determine whether customers can someday realistically drop their cable subscriptions and go online-only for their TV.

As a matter of fact, I just dropped off my old cable box today. "Internet only," I told them...

Re:Funny you mention it... (1)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | more than 3 years ago | (#34541124)

I did the same about three months ago and haven't looked back once. What isn't on Netflix or Hulu can be found elsewhere.

For those that are watched elsewhere at a loss to the production company, it is nobody's fault but their own. Provide the video on Netflix or Hulu and make your respectable profit from ad revenue and subscription fees, or don't be surprised when your viewership and ratings plummet and illegal sharing skyrockets.

Re:Funny you mention it... (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 3 years ago | (#34542106)

I pay for cable TV even though it's not connected to my TV, because Comcast charges more for Internet than for Internet + Basic TV.

To me this is a clear sign that something is messed up.

Re:Funny you mention it... (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 3 years ago | (#34542196)

Adelphia and @Home, before they both died, used to do this too for ten bucks difference.

Re:Funny you mention it... (1)

Organic Brain Damage (863655) | more than 3 years ago | (#34544956)

Comcast: Take our 50 channels of QVC and similar crap, please! Here's $120 if you'll take it for a year, you don't even have to watch it! We still have a choice of providers. The phone company/DSL is an option. Just not a very attractive one at the moment. I suspect, for people who really like watching TV on the internet, Comcast will do something stupid and those customers will switch to the phone company (Verizon, Qwest, whoever) and then Comcast will undo their stupid move or shrink a bit.

Opium (4, Interesting)

ScientiaPotentiaEst (1635927) | more than 3 years ago | (#34540584)

I suspect that I'm going to be modded into oblivion with this comment. So be it.

TV* is an addiction that's sapping so many of time and energy. How important is Dancing with the Stars, Saturday Night Live and CSI:Whocareswhere? One of the better things that could happen to Western society, IMO, is that there'd be no more "interesting" TV. People would spend more time exercising, engaging in hobbies and talking with others.

I know, I know, everyone watches only three "quality" shows per week - all on the Discovery Channel, natch. That must be why the highest viewership numbers are for the most intellectually barren shows.

Over ten years ago, my wife and I ditched our TV. For the first couple of weeks, in the evenings we were at a loss. There was this "hole" in our lives. But once we got past the withdrawal symptoms, we realized how much we'd been hypnotized by the damned thing. We have so much more time now - and we're a lot fitter (back then I was quite the couch potato with the physique to match). When we visit friends who have TVs, watching proves to be quite boring (and at the same time amazing for how utterly moronic the commercials are - we're no longer desensitized I'm guessing).

Perhaps some will think that I'm a holier-than-thou elitist snob, lying about my lack of TV viewing in an attempt to elevate myself. Whatever. Just try ditching the thing for a few weeks. See what it's like. If you find that your life is really poorer, you can always go back to watching your shows.

Fire away.

*: I use the acronym "TV" now as the generic act of watching entertainment shows - regardless of medium.

Re:Opium (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34540728)

I suspect that I'm going to be modded into oblivion with this comment. So be it.

Internetting* is an addiction that's sapping so many of time and energy. How important is Facebook, Twitter and WoW:Whocarespack? One of the better things that could happen to Western society, IMO, is that there'd be no more "interesting" Online. People would spend more time exercising, engaging in hobbies and talking with others.

I know, I know, everyone views only three "quality" websites per week - all about Open Source Software, natch. That must be why the highest viewership numbers are on the most intellectually barren activities.

Over ten years ago, my wife and I ditched our Broadband. For the first couple of weeks, in the evenings we were at a loss. There was this "hole" in our lives. But once we got past the withdrawal symptoms, we realized how much we'd been hypnotized by the damned thing. We have so much more time now - and we're a lot fitter (back then I was quite the couch potato with the physique to match). When we visit friends who have Broadband, observing proves to be quite boring (and at the same time amazing for how utterly moronic the activities are - we're no longer desensitized I'm guessing).

Perhaps some will think that I'm a holier-than-thou elitist snob, lying about my lack of Online participation in an attempt to elevate myself. Whatever. Just try ditching the thing for a few weeks. See what it's like. If you find that your life is really poorer, you can always go back to levelling your druid.

Fire away.

*: I use the word "Internetting" now as the generic act of doing anything online - regardless of medium.

Re:Opium (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34540736)

I find watching TV is a good way to just reset after spending the better portion of the day doing more stimulating things. 9 hours of work go by, then I spend 30min to an hour on a musical intrument, a couple hours on the computer programming or working on some other project, then an hour or two either studying something, or reading. Add in food prep. time, cleaning, etc, and it's a busy day. If I want to do something brainless and watch some cartoons after a day as full as that, what's the problem?

Re:Opium (1)

ScientiaPotentiaEst (1635927) | more than 3 years ago | (#34541138)

In which case, I see no problem. But given what I see with my peers, and from reading any reasonable metric on the subject, you are not the rule but the exception.

Re:Opium (2)

cappp (1822388) | more than 3 years ago | (#34540772)

While I agree with your general point, I wonder if you’re not understating the positive side of entertainment media. All those shows you listed are what create unifying shared cultural moments – the quintessential water cooler conversation topics. A significant part of what makes American’s American, or the French French, or what have you, is their shared cultural touchstones – which are in turn created, propagated, reified, and dissected in popular media.

Take for instance Jerry Springer. Horrendous exploitation on one hand. On the other? A morality play in which the audience and the host cooperate to establish shared social values and negotiate the ins and outs of simplistic moral cautionary tales. CSI? Stupid science and convenient plot twists on the one hand. On the other...a not too bad exploration of moral and legal questions, and a fantastic jumping point for further conversation. TV is what you make of it. There is a degree of depth present if you’re willing to put the effort in and find it. Watch American Idol with your kids and have a conversation about what an Idol is as portrayed on the show – popularity versus meritocracy. Watch Survivor and discuss teamwork. Watch The Apprentice and let the warnings of bad hair pieces sink in for themselves.

Anyone interested in a far better framing of the argument should consider looking at Joshua Gamson’s Freaks Talk Back [amazon.com] . It’s an interesting inversion of that idea that trash TV is in actually, complete trash.

Re:Opium (2)

ScientiaPotentiaEst (1635927) | more than 3 years ago | (#34541394)

All that you mention involves passive viewing. For example, instead of critiquing CSI's poor make-believe science, engage in real science activities. How about looking at the mountains of the Moon through a telescope? Perhaps make said telescope first. Surely such interactive pastimes are more enriching and persistent. How about building and/or learning to fly a model airplane? Build a radio? A musical instrument? Engage in real activities instead of watching fiction.

I question the value of the shared experience involved in watching TV. Compare the collective experience of watching American Idol with your children to taking them out kayaking or caving, observing or building, playing musical instruments. To me, there's no comparison in relative value.

This is just me, of course, but I can think of very few activities exceeded in any value by the viewing of Jerry Springer.

Re:Opium (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34541806)

All that you mention involves passive viewing. For example, instead of critiquing CSI's poor make-believe science, engage in real science activities. How about looking at the mountains of the Moon through a telescope? Perhaps make said telescope first. Surely such interactive pastimes are more enriching and persistent. How about building and/or learning to fly a model airplane? Build a radio? A musical instrument? Engage in real activities instead of watching fiction.

I question the value of the shared experience involved in watching TV. Compare the collective experience of watching American Idol with your children to taking them out kayaking or caving, observing or building, playing musical instruments. To me, there's no comparison in relative value.

This is just me, of course, but I can think of very few activities exceeded in any value by the viewing of Jerry Springer.

All that you mention involves passive viewing. For example, instead of critiquing CSI's poor make-believe science, engage in real science activities. How about looking at the mountains of the Moon through a telescope? Perhaps make said telescope first. Surely such interactive pastimes are more enriching and persistent. How about building and/or learning to fly a model airplane? Build a radio? A musical instrument? Engage in real activities instead of watching fiction.

I question the value of the shared experience involved in watching TV. Compare the collective experience of watching American Idol with your children to taking them out kayaking or caving, observing or building, playing musical instruments. To me, there's no comparison in relative value.

This is just me, of course, but I can think of very few activities exceeded in any value by the viewing of Jerry Springer.

All that you mention involves passive viewing. For example, instead of critiquing CSI's poor make-believe science, engage in real science activities. How about looking at the mountains of the Moon through a telescope? Perhaps make said telescope first. Surely such interactive pastimes are more enriching and persistent. How about building and/or learning to fly a model airplane? Build a radio? A musical instrument? Engage in real activities instead of watching fiction.

I question the value of the shared experience involved in watching TV. Compare the collective experience of watching American Idol with your children to taking them out kayaking or caving, observing or building, playing musical instruments. To me, there's no comparison in relative value.

This is just me, of course, but I can think of very few activities exceeded in any value by the viewing of Jerry Springer.

Interesting how you harp on Jerry Springer as if that dreck is the end-all-be-all of television. That's typical weak logic, to use the most base example you can and preen it up to appear to be a common form of representation. The fact is that your opinion is just that: opinion. You *are* coming across like an elitist, because you obviously think *you* have it figured out. You KNOW everyone watches Jerry Springer, you KNOW that most people watch TV excessively, you KNOW that blah, blah blah.

TV in and of itself is an invaluable communications tool. Without the underlying science behind it, you wouldn't have many of your fun little things. If we didn't have it, you'd probably be crowing over how comic books rot the mind and to pick up 'War and Peace' instead.

Let adults who make their own money without your help choose what to do with it. We could argue all day about how you question the shared experience, but I for one, am already tired of your self-righteous preening.

  TV can be entertaining, informative, shocking, stupid, boring - all of these things. It's up to people to decide what they want to do/watch/enjoy, etc. Just because you've got an ego because you're TV-less doesn't mean a shitting thing about your value as a person, period.

I saw the 9/11 attacks happening live, on TV, when it occurred. As one small counterpoint to your ridiculous Jerry Springer comparison. I wept on 9/11, watching the news. I could HEAR the anguish in people's voices, I could SEE the pain. I was able to share that moment with millions of my countrymen. No, it wasn't a joyous fun moment, but it's something that much of America could share together because of TV. Your radio and newspapers can't convey that type of human emotion, period. TV brings us Amber Alerts, weather warnings, cartoons! (many of which could really be considered art).

And to knock fiction? You sir, are truly an asshole. FICTION is where your internet, written word, radio, TV, space travel, computers, and many other things came from first. The ability of mankind to not only dream and think outside the scope of their reality but to then also actualize it is an unparallelled gem of wonder that has driven human achievement for all time. For you to knock fiction is to knock imagination, and to knock imagination is to look down on almost anything any human being has ever dreamed of, much of which is reality today.

So really, get off your high horse. You and your wife can not watch TV while you Facebook each other about how cool your Slashdot posts were and pretend you're better than everyone else on 4Chan. You're still a pretentious asshole typing about how much better kayaking is than TV, on an internet forum.

Re:Opium (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34542912)

You didn't read the thread. He was clearly responding to cappp's mention of Jerry Springer. But hey, you sure are good at spitting profanity. So it's all good.

PS: Next time try not quoting the same text 3 times in your response. Maybe you need to work some on that reading thing.

Re:Opium (1)

Ryanrule (1657199) | more than 3 years ago | (#34540918)

I stopped watching tv when i went to college about 90%, and have kept with that. usually only gets turned on when some great show to watch in hd is on, or i just want some noise while im working and i dont want to make a playlist. still have to mute the commercials though.

Re:Opium (2)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 3 years ago | (#34541276)

This link [theonion.com] may be relevant to your interests.

Re:Opium (1)

ScientiaPotentiaEst (1635927) | more than 3 years ago | (#34541438)

The identification of the rare non-TV-owner as the subject of humor/ridicule is in itself is very telling.

Re:Opium (1)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 3 years ago | (#34543618)

It's not the identification. I know more than a few people sans TVs. It is the self righteous peacocking that gets to most people.

Re:Opium (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#34541792)

My 3 shows...

Robot chicken, Venture Brothers, and lately reruns of "Drawn together".

I can learn anytime, I want sophomoric fart jokes for my down time.

Re:Opium (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 3 years ago | (#34541924)

"*: I use the acronym "TV" now as the generic act of watching entertainment shows - regardless of medium."

Many others who complain about the concept of "TV" haven't quite identified what they're complaining about. If you really think about it, the problem is "push TV," which refers to over-the-air or cable/satellite programming. Things like DVRs are half-assed band-aids that only perpetuate the problem because you are stuck to the pushers' schedules. In that sense, push television is a huge technological step backwards from books, which by their nature are on-demand.

I have learned over the years that if you only have access to on-demand video programming, through your DVD collection, Netflix, etc., you tend to treat videos as items you can pull off the shelf now and then for enjoyment...like a book. When you are free from time and space limitations, videos just become another selectable media item.

Actually (1)

Kazymyr (190114) | more than 3 years ago | (#34540678)

But what if there's nothing worth watching?

Sorry, kid. You're 20 years too late.

Re:Actually (1)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | more than 3 years ago | (#34541146)

ABC or CBS or one of those networks has the entire series of Matlock and MacGyver if you're so inclined to watch them...

Sorry, I started on the M's.

Re:Actually (1)

Kazymyr (190114) | more than 3 years ago | (#34542302)

Hey! You leave MacGyver alone! :)

This seems really important (2, Insightful)

podom (139468) | more than 3 years ago | (#34540848)

Hey, I've got an idea. How about we stop acting like ready access to TV shows and movies is an inalienable right? Or like we're being repressed as a people when movie and TV studios make watching their content more difficult or comcast decides to limit access to the latest episode of your favorite show?

Re:This seems really important (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34541016)

Hey, I've got an idea. How about we stop acting like ready access to TV shows and movies is an inalienable right? Or like we're being repressed as a people when movie and TV studios make watching their content more difficult or comcast decides to limit access to the latest episode of your favorite show?

Hey, I've got an idea too. How about America stops allowing corporations to drive everything in America, from energy to fuel to food to entertainment so freaking expensive? How about we stop rewarding the affluent for taking every dollar they have and keeping it, and using that 'power' to leverage their own wants over those of the public? Here's another idea - how about using the prior 50+ years of TV as a precedent and not suddenly starting to toll the hell out of consumers just because a company CAN, how about that?

It's frankly fucking ASININE how much power corporations in America have these days. To defend something like making content that they expect people to crave more difficult to get to is frankly, retarded.

Yeah, it's not going to kill me if TV costs a little more, but that's not the underpinning of this situation now , is it?

Acting like Comcast or any other megacorp isn't making their fair share is ridiculous.

Re:This seems really important (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 3 years ago | (#34541088)

Hey, I've got an idea. How about we stop acting like ready access to TV shows and movies is an inalienable right?

Comcast is trying to mislead people by citing NBC's market share and it seems to have worked in your case. We're not talking about a right to particular TV shows, but rather the free market when there is no realistic alternatives in many locations for both TV and internet access. What we're talking about are now vital utilities. The ability to access news and wether as well as e-mail, voice and video communications, research topics. I'd assert that data pipes, whether delivering TV programs, music, or random Web pages; are now a basic utility and a lot of us need them to do our jobs. Further, they are a strategic resource for the advancement of our society in technology and education. We should, therefore, regulate them as a utility, like we did with phones and electricity and water and sewage. As taxpayers we've already funded the internet infrastructure more than most nations, we just have received less in return than most other nations. We should require a return on our investment, continued investment, but protections for the citizenry funding this. Separate content producers from those running the delivery infrastructure and heavily regulate the latter. If NBC doesn't want to sell some show on the internet, fine, but they shouldn't be leveraging a geographic monopoly on providing data pipes (a monopoly that is the result of their lobbying corrupt politicians for laws designed to make the people pay through the nose) in order to undermine the free market that would normally make them lose money when they displease customers.

Re:This seems really important (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#34541764)

NBC's content is a piss in the bucket of the better stuff out there. the BBC produces a lot, as well as a lot of other smaller players.

Honestly, content without a big conglomo is right around the corner... NBC will die just like a bad SNL sketch.

How would they figure it's $'s? (1)

n_djinn (1883738) | more than 3 years ago | (#34541368)

But it's pretty hard to see how "media" companies can't see that the future is in web streaming and TV programming with was the norm from the 1930's-2008 is just not the future. It's plain to see that that is not what consumers want, regardless it may be harder to push a new show, but I don't have cable and I have found many new shows using the "what's popular" on Hulu. Not that Hulu is the answer but it's a better direction then the Live TV or even TEVO type model. And remember that the "networks" fought hard against TEVO even to the point that advertisers were working on commercials that had visual cues at marked points in the fast forward stream. It's just not possible to conceive of an video future that the old model fits. NBC may push them selves into forced irrelevance if they try to force what remaining viewers they have into an archaic model of broadcasting.

Here's an idea (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 3 years ago | (#34541444)

How about NOT approving the Comcast and NBC merger?

How much media content should a single corporation own? What if that corporation also is one of the largest cable providers in the US? What if that corporation has a startup service named Xfinity that competes with other streaming services?

These rhetorical questions should serve as red flags that maybe we should not allow Comcast to own NBC. Anyway when was the last time a pre-merger condition from a government agency was honored and actually benefitted the consumer? Need more evidence, just look at FM radio. How many of those stations on your local radio dial is owned by a single communication company? I'm full of questions today ;)

So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34541508)

But there is nothing new worth watching. Stick with the old stuff already on DVD.

Not net neutrality (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 3 years ago | (#34541530)

We need a new phrase... media neutrality?

Here's the issue in a nut shell (1)

El Fantasmo (1057616) | more than 3 years ago | (#34541700)

Level 3 made a deal with Netflix, so Level 3 amped up their own bandwidth and servers to push out Netflix content. Comcast felt their agreement with Level 3 to pass traffic for Level 3 was being abused. So rather than throttling all Level 3 traffic, Comcast decided to block only their competitor, Netflix who they feel is a threat to their business, to temporarily "balance" their traffic passing agreement with Level 3, unless Level 3 pays more to Comcast.

Re:Here's the issue in a nut shell (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34542090)

Level 3 made a deal with Netflix, so Level 3 amped up their own bandwidth and servers to push out Netflix content. Comcast felt their agreement with Level 3 to pass traffic for Level 3 was being abused. So rather than throttling all Level 3 traffic, Comcast decided to block only their competitor, Netflix who they feel is a threat to their business, to temporarily "balance" their traffic passing agreement with Level 3, unless Level 3 pays more to Comcast.

Umm , not exactly.

Comcast and L3 have a peering agreement between them that regulates the price of bandwidth used back and forth. If it were a matter of usage only, there would be no problem, as L3 has stated , and as proven by prior suits from L3 against other companies for not honoring the peering agreement charges. This is because Comcast wants to drive prices up on Netflix and other online providers as a base to have a foot in the price war for their own upcoming streaming content solution. They expect to have NBC/Universal and want to leverage all of that. It's not a coincidence that this comes now, as Comcast is making these aquisitions and ramping up their Xfinity horsecrap.

This is NOT about their peering agreement. This is NOT about traffic balancing either. This is Comcast leveraging the portion of the Internet they control to position themselves going forward to fuck every customer they can. Keep in mind that who are the bulk of users requesting Netflix are on COMCAST.

So, should L3 be charged more to provide content to Comcast Customers on Comcast network that request it? Because that's what is going to happen -- L3 and Netflix will be expected to carry the cost, which drives prices up, and oh look - Comcast can now provide a lot more streaming / on demand content that's cheaper because they're not getting tolled for it.

Don't for a second think this is about the peering agreement only or a balancing. That's a fallacy.

Wont affect me..... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#34541732)

I get it all in HD and without commercials via bittorrent...

Until they stop being idiots and assholes, I'll stick with the content delivery that I trust.

and yes I PAY for a private tracker group that has no MPAA or industry lackeys in it. I'd PAY them for the files, but NBC, COmcast and everyone else is not interest in selling them to me. Give me non DRM standard 720p mpeg4 files and I'll give you $1.00 an episode. force DRM on me then I'll look elsewhere as I want to use MY playback system not your crappy screwed up junk.

Re:Wont affect me..... (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 3 years ago | (#34541948)

So rather than doing without and supporting independent media with your wallet, you're perpetuating the consumption. BraVO to you.

Real Net Neutrality (1)

emaname (1014225) | more than 3 years ago | (#34541772)

Accept No Substitute for Real Net Neutrality

Sign the petition. [freepress.net]

Oh no you di'int! (1)

paiute (550198) | more than 3 years ago | (#34542138)

"Comcast has been resisting federal regulators' efforts to tear down some of those walls, arguing that those efforts are unnecessary because NBC Universal accounts for about 10 percent of television viewing in the US and less than 10 percent of US box office revenue — and is therefore too small to dictate how the industry will develop."

This is one of the goddamdest disingenuous statements I've heard in a while. If a Comcast spokesperson said this to my face, I would have to be held back from beating the crap out of them.

Separate the content and the distribution (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 3 years ago | (#34542556)

In the late 1940s the government (through anti-trust action) forced the movie studios to sell off their theater chains and end the practice of forcing theaters to buy (and exhibit) an entire package of films just to get the one film they actually wanted to get.

The government needs to do the same again and break up the vertical content companies, ban content producers from requring cable operators to buy (or sell/bundle) one channel when they want another channel (e.g. where Disney might say that Comcast has to bundle ESPN Football and ABC Family into one block) and separate the pipes from the content that goes over those pipes.

The future is yesterday (?) (1)

levicivita (1487751) | more than 3 years ago | (#34542710)

"It won't be long before video from the Internet is always within reach."

I am so confused. Why is a huge leap in comprehension required to go from a typical computer monitor with a diagonal increases of 17-24'' to a standard TV with a diagonal of 35-50'' or more? It is the same LCD based technology. It is not a different type of tool. It does not require a separate cultural upbringing or years of additional technical training to understand the other once you understand one.

Your college age movie watching experience on a tiny laptop in a cramped dorm room neatly maps onto a more leisurely experience staring at your obscenely large TV from the comfort of your living room couch. You don't like staring at a big black box underneath your precious media center? Fine, then get an HTPC form factor computer, and hide it behind the TV itself. You don't want a keyboard? Then get a bluetooth remote control. All this should be straight forward. You don't need a box with a prominent 'CPO stamp of approval' (Cable Provider Oligopoly) and ridiculous price and limitations. Essentially all you need is a $10 HDMI cable to connect your computer to your TV. How atrophied is the American consumer's capacity to reason and think independently...?

Slashing Cable (1)

Journe (1493651) | more than 3 years ago | (#34542984)

Is it just me, or is there no one on slashdot who actually *has* cable tv? Everytime I see anything related to comcast or other networks, I usually take it for a given that there'll be a liberal amount of comments that are just rehashes of "Between the individual network sites, hulu, and netflix, I haven't missed a thing (other than a lot of commercials) by not having cable for the last couple years."

But what if there's nothing worth watching? (2)

chord.wav (599850) | more than 3 years ago | (#34544930)

But what if there's nothing worth watching?

OMG!! Do you mean we would have to.... read!!?!?

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