Behold, the future of TV: The Internet

TV-watching on a laptop. Is it really such a surprise that Google and Apple are exploring television-over-the-Internet?

The idea of watching TV on the Internet is not new. Back in 2010, Google was trying to get cable television to play nice with online video with a product called Google TV.

But Google TV never really took off, in part because to actually watch your favorite shows, you still needed to buy a separate cable package. Google is now reportedly trying to replace cable with broadband streaming, by making deals directly with the TV networks that created the content.

"In essence, that would be changing the current model," says Bill Carroll, director of programming for the Katz Television Group. "Since the model for the most part seems to be working, someone would have to make a pretty significant case as to why this is a better way."

That case is being made by consumers.

Alex Costantini lives in Brooklyn. He used to have a cable package worth almost $100 a month.

"We basically got the premium package. NFL Sunday ticket, everything imaginable," Costantini says.

But instead of channel surfing, he found himself always watching 'The Colbert Report," "Game of Thrones," "Mad Men."

"I still, at the end of the day, had a group of maybe five to 10 shows that were my go-to shows," he says.

He's now moving into a new apartment, and trying to figure out a cost-effective way to watch only those shows.

Google’s new product will likely require subscribe to a bundle of channels, like a cable subscription -- a model similar to a product being rolled out later this year by Intel. But that could change.

"The age-old common denominator is money," says entertainment analyst Robert Galinsky. "And the industries are realizing that this is where the money is."

But it will take time for the networks to find a way to make as much money in a world where consumers watch TV online, and a la carte.

About the author

Stan Alcorn is a multimedia journalist in New York City. He has reported for NPR and WNYC, where he has focused on business and the New York tech scene.
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I've been watching internet television for about a decade, so I don't think this is much of a story. In fact, it's the only kind of television I watch. Roku started making its internet television set-top boxes over a decade ago and Apple started shipping its Apple TV device at about the same time. Services like Netflix and Amazon stream literally thousands of television programs and movies. And there are hundreds of other providers as well, including Yale and MIT which stream university courses, the BBC, NPR, CBS, HBO, Major League Baseball and many, many more.

Great for google! And a victory for market forces. This service will divert or - depending on the delivery mechanism - decrimininalize the behaviors of millions of sensible & practical torrent users.

This might explain Google's about-face on net-neutrality. Maybe, with all the "dark fiber" they will offer a version of the internet just-for-broadcast-quality audio & video.

Biggest losers? Media owners & transmitters who go out of their way to reliably fail to give customers what they want in convenient and affordable packages. That camp can't adapt or wither fast enough for me.

In hindsight, why was it so hard to to give customers a-la-carte entertainment instead of expensive cable packages studded with unforgiveably awful channels and programming?

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