I really love streaming video. Being able to watch anything I want whenever I want is fantastic. Not having to wait for a download makes it all the better. The problem comes with getting all that content onto my TV. The biggest issue with all those cool set-top boxes isn’t the hardware or the cost – it’s the networks.
I’ve been considering a few different options like the Boxee Box or Google TV, but it seems like a dedicated PC is still going to be the best answer. Why? Because there are no restriction on what I can watch.
You may have seen the news about Google TV’s trouble with Hulu. Neither the Sony Internet TV nor the Logitech Revue will have Hulu access at launch, but may add Hulu Plus in the near future. This may not seem like much at first, but consider that Google TV products feature web-browsers. It’s not that they won’t have a Hulu app; you won’t even be allowed to bring up the web site in the first place.
ABC, NBC, CBS have announced that they’ll be blocking Google TV’s access. Even Fox jumped on the bandwagon. That means that some of my favorite shows like ‘Community’ and ‘Modern Family’ won’t be available to me if I buy a Google TV.
Of course, if I hook up my netbook to my TV, there’s nothing stopping me from getting to that same content. I can stream it to my computer, attach that computer to a television, and get the exact same content that’s blocked on other devices.
If blocking the content in the first place is silly, the reason is downright ludicrous. According to an article in ‘The Wall Street Journal‘, companies like Disney are concerned about piracy. They worry that people using Google TV may see results from pirate sites in searches and watch there, rather than on the official sites.
That’s right. Disney doesn’t want people watching ABC shows on pirated sites, so it blocks access to the legitimate site. Let’s look at that again: Disney doesn’t want people stealing, so it removes the only option that isn’t theft.
It’s not consumer desire, broadband speeds or even video quality that’s holding streaming content back. It’s attitudes like this from slow-moving companies unwilling to advance with the technology.
Again, if you’ve got an HTPC, a netbook or a laptop hooked up to your computer, none of this matters. You can stream all you want, without worrying about what company is trying to block access or whose service you’re allowed to use.