The Future of TV Isn't Ready for Prime Time
So you've done it. You've
cut the cord
It would be one thing if this were an isolated incident; we all have bad nights. But it comes on the heels of a similar meltdown for Aereo and ABC during the Oscars just a week prior. Likewise January's Golden Globes. As QZ pointed out at the time, the crush of streaming Oscars fans didn't even include subscribers to three of the nation's four largest cable subscribers.
What's our takeaway, other than a lot of shouting at screens and some delayed gratification? That the demand for streaming
While services and products like Aereo and Roku are hustling to meet the growing demand of an audience of cord-cutters, content creators are dragging their feet. In their ideal world, you'd continue watching their shows on broadcast television, where they have the most lucrative advertising and licensing deals in place. No wonder, then, that the streaming experience is threadbare, ready to tear apart at the slightest hint of pressure.
It's especially telling when you compare HBO's lack of True Detective preparedness to the rock-solid experience Netflix provided for its second season of House of Cards . Yes, True Detective was appointment television last night. But Netflix and HBO go have roughly the same number of subscribers, and Netflix was unloading an entire 13-episode season instead of just one hour. It's not an apples to apples comparison, but it's telling that Netflix, which depends entirely on streaming for its revenues, held up, while subscription-powered HBO did not.
The problems here are infrastructural, a lack of investment in and anticipation of the online viewing experience. And the more people transition from cable boxes to Rokus and Apple TVs, the worse it will get. It's a reminder that our wanting something to happen doesn't obligate networks to provide it for you, at least not at any kind of scale. And frankly, the more fed up you are with a digital viewing life, the more likely you are to go crawling back to the old model.
All of which means that the future of TV right now well-appointed place setting, a meal long ago ordered, and nothing on the plate. It could end up being delicious, if only the cooks had their hearts in it.