US cable companies: Web TV coming to the cloud this summer

  • Chicago (IL) - Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Comcast and Timer Warner were negotiating with cable networks such as USA, MTV and TNT in an attempt to put broadcast shows from those channels online. The shows will not be delivered for free to the general public, but instead will give paid cable subscribers a new way to access streaming video content online from wherever they are, taking the television out of the living room and on the go.

    Having cable programming move their content onto the web is a huge step forward in terms of the future of viewing. Rather than having a physical service connected only to the box in your living room, web-based TV follows you wherever you go, building upon the basic cloud concept of computer use, ensuring the "here am I, and there's my content" motto always holds true -- so long as there's a good Internet connection.

    Individuals who currently enjoy their favorite programs via Hulu and other similar sites would lose access to many of their favorite shows, however, which are currently hosted and streamed for free. It seems now that this previous free access was just a "testing of the waters", so to speak, to see how popular online viewing would be with its reduced signal quality and limited audio abilities. Consumers have grabbed hold of these features though with both hands, and now the companies appear to be moving in for the kill so they can profit from market interest.

    Comcast is reportedly in discussion with programmers such as Viacom Inc. and Discovery Communications Inc. along with Time Warner Cable, Direct TV and other providers. The companies would like to discuss delivering cable programming to the web, and will more than likely do so at an industry meeting this week according to individuals who are familiar with the plans.

    Subscribers would be allowed to watch up-to-date cable television programs via the web and potentially on mobile phones. The service would be free to individuals who subscribe to regular cable, and could potentially be brought to market as early as the summer. It is likely that over time the movement to a portable form of media playback, coupled to the ability to deliver high resolution content at home, will prove out as the form of content delivery we all eventually use, making every mobile form eventually able to access all kinds of related streaming video content.

    It is yes unknown whether each provider would have their own site in which to watch television, or if a single site would be set up where users could be verified via their own cable provider.

    Streaming television programming, and the luxuries we've gone accustomed to for free might soon be a thing of the past. However, the ability to take our favorite TV shows, the ones we're already paying to access with our cable fees, out of the living room and have them follow us wherever we are may be dawning. And it's all part of the "cloud like" suite of services we'll likely all be up to our necks in over the next few years.