The Internet was the original media disruptor. It was a new heavyweight contender in the fight for consumer eyeballs and it started us down an irreversible path towards instantaneous-or-nothing content consumption. The Internet turned entertainment access into a zero sum game.
Cable met this new shift head on with DVRs, content streaming, and by supporting cutting-edge TV Everywhere channel apps like HBOGo and Watch ESPN. And while these products are meeting our near insatiable need for content, they’ve had some unintended consequences. Namely, they’ve made viewers choose between making TV a right-here-right-now platform and an appointment driven platform. That’s not to say people can’t watch by appointment if they want – just that they no longer have to. To this, some say “Good riddance. Convenience is king” while others lament the end of shared cultural moments that TV was so good at delivering.
But new leaps in media technology and trends may be bringing appointment TV back. Sling Media, makers of Slingbox and SlingPlayer is creating apps and home media players that deliver a great TV everywhere experience. And once consumers can watch whatever they want no matter where they are, the DVR becomes a crutch. Consumers can make TV appointments and almost always keep them. But is this good for cable?
“Slingbox is great for cable,” said Brian Jaquet, Senior PR Manager for Sling Media. “We make cable subscriptions more valuable because we help make all that content easier to use, easier to get.”
Of course, this wasn’t always the case. At first, content creators and distributors saw technology like Slingbox as a resource for content pirates – as a possible black market for distribution. But today Slingbox is licensing technology to set top box builders. In October a partnership between ARRIS and Slingbox was announced where ARRIS was the exclusive worldwide distributor of Sling technology to cable, telco and wireless service providers worldwide.
This means better-integrated access to cable content via smartphone, tablet, and PC no matter where in the world the viewer is. According to Jaquet is helps create a media marketplace where people are free to return to appointment TV without being tied to their living room.
When asked about whether Slingbox would hurt the content discovery experience that cable’s been so good at delivering, Jaquet said he could “make the argument both ways but…part of what makes Slingbox great is it allows people to discover new content. And for that, access to lots of content is good.”
As cable perfects the TV everywhere experience, appointment TV becomes convenient again. It fits in with the now-or-never TV experience we’ve come to demand. And companies like Slingbox are pushing cable further, faster and heralding a return to the shared experience of live TV.