When I saw the news last week announcing Google Chromecast’s new plug in wi-fi device the first thing I thought was ‘Could a $35 device really hurt the cable TV industry?’. Reading @jeffjarvis excellent post http://buzzmachine.com/2013/07/24/googles-tv/ from last week apparently he feels (as do I) that Chromecast could be a telling blow for cable TV.
Jeff did such a good job beating me to the punch on my rumination on the subject that I will offer some of his thoughts below as to what Google has in mind for Chromecast and how it might impact cable and network television:
“*Google gets more opportunities to sell higher-priced video advertising on its content, which it will surely promote.
* Google gets more opportunities to sell you shows and movies from its Play Store, competing with both Apple and Amazon.
* YouTube gets a big boost in creating channels and building a new revenue stream: subscriptions. This is a paywall that will work simply because entertainment is a unique product, unlike news, which is — sorry to break the news to you — a commodity. I also wonder whether Google is getting a reward for all the Netflix subscriptions it will sell.
* TV is no longer device-dependant but viewer-dependant. I can start watching a show in one room then watch it another and then take it with me and watch on my tablet from where I left off.
* I can throw out the device with the worst user interface on earth: the cable remote. Now I can control video via my phone and probably do much more with it (again, I’m imagining new game interfaces).
* I can take a Chromecast with me on the road and use it in hotel rooms or in conference rooms to give presentations.
Those are implications for me as a user or viewer or whatever the hell I am now. That’s why I quickly bought three Chromecasts: one for the family room, one for my office, one for the briefcase and the road. What the hell, they’re cheap.
Harder to fully catalog are the implications for the industry — make that industries — affected. Too often, TV and the oligopolies that control it have been declared dead yet they keep going. One of these days, one of the bullets shot at them will hit the heart. Is this it?
* Cable is hearing a loud, growing snipping sound on the horizon. This makes it yet easier for us all to cut the cord. This unravels their bundling of channels. I’ll never count these sharks out. But it looks like it could be Sharknado for them. I also anticipate them trying to screw up our internet bandwidth every way they can: limiting speeds and downloading or charging us through the nose for decent service if we use Chromecast — from their greedy perspective — “too much.”
* Networks should also start feeling sweaty, for there is even less need for their bundling when we can find the shows and stars we want without them. The broadcast networks will descend even deeper into the slough of crappy reality TV. Cable networks will find their subsidies via cable operators’ bundles threatened. TV — like music and news — may finally come unbundled. But then again, TV networks are the first to run for the lifeboats and steal the oars. I remember well the day when ABC decided to stream Desperate Housewives on the net the morning after it aired on broadcast, screwing its broadcast affiliates. They’d love to do the same to cable MSOs. Will this give them their excuse?”
But my favorite part was the tweet from Jeff’s friend @tomhillenbrand – ‘This should have been Apple’s product.’ But if it had been there’s no way it would have been $35.
What do you think? Will Chromecast be a stiff right cross to cable and network TV or is it merely a patsy?