When you read articles like this from GigaOM that show how Connected TVs are on the rise, you wonder whether it signals the beginning of the end for traditional cable TV. It may, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing as far as MSOs are concerned.
Cable set-top boxes are expensive and limited in flexibility. In a multi-device, OTT environment, cable operators are actually constrained by their set-top-centric services. They’d like to offer more apps, better user experiences, and better content engagement. If operators can move away from set tops, they’ll not only reduce their cost and cost of customer set-up, they won’t have to deal with all of the processes that go with the hardware. Right now they have to manage installs and returns; chasing delinquents for lost, broken, or stolen hardware; and both track and manage a long tail of varying set top box vintages, all with varying capabilities. If operators can be freed from the set-top box, they can do a lot more for a lot less cost and effort.
So, as we see connected TVs rise as a percentage of the population of TVs in homes, they become just another type of connected device to which operators want to deliver individualized content experiences. A connected TV isn’t all that much different from a smartphone, tablet, PC, connected game console, or streaming device – it’s just another device in a multi-device world. Sure, cable operators will have to compete more against app plays like Hulu and Netflix, as well as host of other app plays coming to market from everyone from Wal-Mart to the big Hollywood studios. But they face that competitive pressure anyway. Freed from set-top box limitations, they’ll have a greater ability to compete on the experience they can deliver. MSOs consider that a positive; it’s not the beginning of the end for cable.