For me, the debate over Comcast’s treatment of its streaming Xbox Live app isn’t even about net neutrality or whether it treats the traffic of online competitors any differently than it treats its own. What it really comes down to is, do you want to pay for a TV on internet service that you can stream to your Xbox or an iPad, computer, or connected TV… Or do you want to piece together an alternative solution from a variety of different streaming services?
It’s a judgment between the current value of online video offerings versus what you can get from stream cable TV over the internet. Due to the relatively cheap nature of most online video services, that made the choice easy for people like me. You could pay $100 for an HD cable package and DVR, or you could pay a couple of different services less than $10 a month each for a lot of similar content on-demand. And you could get those streams on pretty much any device you wanted to access them on.
But things are changing rapidly. With the introduction of Comcast’s Xbox app, as well as new applications coming on devices like Samsung Connected TVs and other devices, the cable company is making its service a lot more attractive to potential customers. At the same time, the implementation of usage-based pricing changes the potential cost of stream cable TV over the internet services and makes bundled pay TV and broadband services a lot more attractive as a result.
That’s not to say that the recent moves by Comcast are going to kill the online video industry — I think that Netflix, YouTube and others are beginning to create enough value on their own through device access and new original programming to begin offering a real alternative to cable. But it could make people think twice about how they choose to access content and through what services for TV on internet, if it means additional broadband charges down the line.