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Is TV going to become cheaper, as well as “what you want, when you want, where you want”? That seems to be the underlying belief of many – a subtext to the swirling debates, business and legal machinations around on-demand, a la carte, OTT, TV Everywhere, net neutrality, etc. To unpack all the business, legal, economic and consumer behavioral underpinnings of such an assumption would take more expertise and time than I’m in a position to offer, but I look at it from a slightly different perspective: We’re coming from an era when TV was available over-the-air (broadcast) for free, with consumer access to the expensive content subsidized by advertisers (who are mostly forgotten in all of the above discussions).
Is it really plausible that if we phase out a free, hyper-efficient delivery system for an expensive, bandwidth-intensive point-to-point solution, and allow viewers to cherry pick/subscribe only to what they want, that in the end the creation and delivery of such content is going to be cheaper for consumers? Frankly, I can’t see how. Some people can afford to pay for all that selectivity, convenience and absence of ads. Many cannot, and I’m not sure what happens when this starts to become obvious.