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Famed Tech Columnist Tells Why Traditional TV Delivery Is Changing Too Slowly for His Tastes

Feb 22, 2017  •  Post A Comment

Television is changing way … too … slowly … for at least one noted tech writer. In a column today on Recode, Walt Mossberg, executive editor of The Verge and editor at large for Recode, expresses frustration at the pace of innovation.

“A huge number of households in the U.S. — over 90 million — are still stubbornly sticking to buying big bundles of mostly unwatched networks, with shows primarily presented in linear fashion and interrupted by interstitial ads, even if they also use the newer devices and services,” Mossberg writes. “Their numbers are declining, but not yet collapsing. For these viewers, it might as well be 20 years ago.”

Mossberg notes that “the upending of traditional TV” was a hot topic at the recent Code Media conference in Dana Point, Calif. “I came away from the event convinced that more change is coming, but impatient that a fundamental reworking of TV looks like a slow process.”

The column goes on to offer a rundown of just what’s holding up the process, offering observations from Apple Senior VP Eddy Cue and tech analyst Ben Thompson, along with a look at Caavo, which Mossberg describes as “a cool new universal set-top box.”

Thompson, Mossberg notes, foresees “a future where Amazon and Netflix could be ‘giants’ in most genres of TV, and cable one day may consist mainly of live sports at a stiff price.”

Mossberg cites Caavo, co-created by Blake Krekorian, who also co-created Slingbox, as “a workaround to the systemic problems of reinventing TV. It physically links together everything plugged into your TV — cable boxes, streaming boxes, game consoles — and presents all their contents in one interface with both visual and voice control, down to the individual show level.”

But Mossberg adds: “It says a lot about the state of TV that the most promising near-term path to the solution is a clever hack that sits on top of everything else, not a tightly integrated new product.”

We encourage readers to click on the link to Recode near the top of this story to read Mossberg’s full analysis.

2 Comments

  1. People forget that when cable first came out the adoption was also slow because people had trouble adapting to the equipment and their televisions were not set up for coax and boxes were not common. That same dynamic is what is slowing down adoption now. Most people do not have TV’s that handle the internet easily and there are too many choices for the average person to navigate as far as potential management of all the choices. Do I use Firestick? Or can I use a USB connection from my phone to the TV? These are questions I get everyday from the average person who doesn’t work in technology (which is most of the deplorables in the flyover zone). Also, the fact that broadband and cable tv are sold together as a bundle, usually with a “home phone” the incentive to change is not there for people under 40, who are more comfortable with hard broadband than intermittent over-the-air data where signals drop while watching programming, or they still can’t get HD level quality. The day is coming, but the quality of delivery and ease is still not there for the average person.

  2. Wow, “most of the deplorables” what the heck has that got to do with anything? Anyway, perhaps we are finally seeing folks actually getting outside, doing things rather than watching others do something and that is part of the collapse of the hundred channel world. Those channels were never watched anyway. I would also re-title this piece as Traditional MVPD Delivery, not TV delivery, the local, linear over the air TV station is still the king of info delivery to the masses and the most efficient as well. The new delivery systems are just more in a never ending line of attempts to garner some of the profits that others have now, nothing more, nothing less…

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