I realized today it has been almost two years since I decided to ditch my cable bill in exchange for a Roku box — and I have to say I don’t miss my $80 a month bill at all. Sure sometimes I miss an occasional live event or television show that I can’t get on Hulu or Netflix, but for the most part I can stay up-to-date on all my favorite shows minus the hefty price tag that comes with a cable subscription. I’m not much of a sports fan, and I’m not into live news, but even if I were I can get most of that online. Between Netflix and Hulu I have access to hundreds of televisions shows and movies, many of which are added the day after airing. I was able to buy the Roku box for about as much as a month’s worth of cable and now subscribe to the channels of my choosing to watch old Seinfeld episodes, The Colbert Report and even episodes of cartoons from my childhood if I want. Yep, I’ll take my $20 a month bill for a 24-hour delay any day — and you never know, I might get a little crazy and add Amazon Video On-Demand for another $70 a year, giving me access to an even bigger content library. All this with little to no commercial interruptions — can you say great value?
The cable companies are finally starting to catch up, however — some in more scrupulous ways than others. For example, Hulu is actually a joint venture between NBCUniversal, Fox and ABC. The executives at these companies are the kids that sat in the front of the classroom on the day the teacher covered business. On the other hand, you have companies like Time Warner offering cash rewards for Kansas City citizen spies who pass along tips regarding Google’s fiber deployment for home Internet access. With Google TV now released it’s no wonder the cable giant is doing its research… but spies? Really? Let’s not get all James Bond here.
So why all the cable espionage? With increased competition for viewers, providers will have to struggle to hold onto customers as TV becomes more available, and more affordable, to the public. Channels can now survive without the cable operator because of online video sites. In fact, last year nearly five percent of American cable customers quit their provider between late 2010 and the end of last year, 2.9 million in all, according to TV statistics-keeper Nielsen — that must scare the pants off the players in the cable monopoly.
As a consumer I’m stoked, it’s also a win as a technology professional too. More fiber is being laid, Internet connections are getting faster and content delivery networks are becoming the norm. Online video is obviously driving a large proportion of this — by 2015 there will be one million video minutes traversing the web every second, and by 2014 the global CDN market is expected to increase by 14.9% according to the “Global Content Delivery Networks Market Overview 2012” report from 451 Research. The good news for consumers of CDN, Enterprise IP and IT Infrastructure is market growth equals more competition, which is driving the technology advancements behind these services. The bad news is there are a lot of providers to choose from, and it’s hard to know which one to pick.
Fortunately, companies like Internap are constantly monitoring performance using third party tools like those from Cedexis and can provide data on request. We also offer cheat sheets for the buying process which explains the in’s and out’s of a CDN and even a list of questions to ask a prospective provider. You can find said cheat sheet in our CDN Buyer’s Guide, and if you also happen to be interested in a new set-top box like Roku, I ran across a handy little chart for comparing features –either way, happy streaming.