TV In The Clouds: Where's The Sunshine?

Some executives can see TV’s future perfectly -- through the clouds.

That's the point.  Content owners and traditional distributors like Comcast Corp. see the  “cloud” as TV’s golden grail.

“It’s the cloud,” said Brian Roberts, chairman/CEO of Comcast, at the National Cable Television Association meeting in Washington, DC.  “The cloud is a game changer. We had an aha moment. We can take most of the cable box and move it to the cloud.”

Technology can be a major expense -- not just when it comes to cable system head-ends, but to all that consumer equipment in the home. Presentation after presentation at the big cable event showed off smaller equipment, particularly set-top boxes. The aim? Take the extra stuff now sitting in the box in one's living room or bedroom and put it in the cloud.

The danger comes in who owns the cloud. Cloud-based issues have been around before. For example, in 2008 Cablevison began pushing “network DVR” to store a cable system's programming for all its customers in its head-end, rather than in a set-top box. TV networks pushed back in the courts but lost.



Still networks and other content owners will, in general, look at owning  “clouds” just like owning their own content. Bigger battles and decisions are to come.

Other home entertainment media areas are moving along these lines. For example, Google’s stripped down laptop, the Chromebook, basically has all its software and storage affixed to the cloud. The goal, of course, is to eliminate ever-constant updating of software and systems, all of which can slow down consumers’ enjoyment and work time.

Last year, Walmart started a fee-based service allowing consumers to upload all their physical DVDs to the cloud for access from any digital device.

In the future, perhaps, consumers might want a piece of this property... er.. water vapor…their own place in the sky. The Rolling Stones figured this out a long time ago: Hey, you, get off of my cloud!

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