20110912 xoom tablet tv
A model displays U.S. electronics giant Motorola's tablet computer 'Xoom', which enables to connect high-definition television, at a Tokyo hotel on Feb. 28, 2011. - 

It's called TV Everywhere and the technology is now in place for it to receive a big push. Works like this: You download, say, the TBS app for your phone or tablet. Then the app asks you for a little information about yourself so it can authenticate that you really are a cable subscriber. If you are, you're free to run off and watch a bunch of episodes (although not the live stream). If you're not a cable subscriber, well friend, you just wasted some time. Because it only works if you're already writing a monthly check.

This big push comes at a time when the cable system is in a bit of trouble. Cable TV is no longer considered the necessity it once was since people can get so much of their entertainment and information online. As a result, subscription numbers have fallen off. This move represents the industry's attempt to hold on to the content and make some money off it by adding extra perks to the cable package.

It also represents an attempt to evolve, says Philip Meza, entertainment industry consultant and researcher and author of "Coming Attractions: Hollywood, High Tech and the Future of Entertainment." He thinks this could presage a future where you subscribe to channels you like, ditch the ones you don't. "The technology not only allows it, the technology pretty much forces forces the industry to go that way," he says.

For now, it's good news if you already subscribe to cable -- one more place to watch. But if you prefer to just watch stuff online, it's an ominous sign, according to Jennifer Holt, professor of film and media studies at U.C. Santa Barbara. She says, "If you're not a cable subscriber, then I think you should start to get worried. Because people who rely on sites like Hulu or other places to get free content online, all of it is going to start to be put behind a paywall. The honeymoon is over. I mean, I keep telling my students -- we're in the wild, wild west of the Internet and online content. In 80 years, they'll be in a rocking chair telling their grandkids about how crazy it was that you could watch whatever you wanted and it's just not going to be that way anymore."

Also in this program, Bob Seger's music is available on iTunes. Guess he took those old records off the shelf.

Follow John Moe at @johnmoe