Decades were spent getting the digital standard ready for prime time. During the process the industry communicated to vendors how to make digital television sets and how new transmission equipment needed to work. This expensive digital TV rebuild brought about a flurry of industry PR by networks on why cable companies should be paying more for HDTV content. Broadcasters have also been trying to play catch-up; they want to see their compensation someday match the cable networks' subscriber fees.
Cable Holding Tight onto Content
As the cablers (like Comcast and Cablevision) renew content agreements, they are also spending to rebuild their cable systems with next-generation transmission equipment like switched digital video and network DVR technologies. These rebuilds put pressure on the cablers to try to manage content costs. In addition, they are simultaneously trying to fend off competitors, like Verizon's FIOS, by increasing available HDTV channels and launching new services (like TV Caller ID). Hence as programmers try to find their own Internet audience, the cable guys want to keep the revenue behind their walled garden, or at least position themselves to share in some of the upside of Internet distribution.
Impossible Could Be Possible
Once the digital transition fog lifts and the industry looks at the current distribution ecosystem, we might find that TV Everywhere and Hulu (to just name two) should technically be integrated with the digital spectrum and cable distribution. We, for instance, should probably be concentrating our efforts on how to combine the Internet and the digital television experience so consumers get content delivered through one seamless "platform."
Cross-platform technologies could satisfy everyone, including the consumer, while also building revenue streams that are integrated across both TV and the Internet. After all, wouldn't you like to be able to click your TV remote control and move the TV show you are watching to the Internet without missing a punch line?