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Winds of change: billing paradigms in media delivery

The ‘net neutrality’ thing was about billing and bundling. I’net access is something usually bundled. The cable companies bundle it as an add-on to their traditional media delivery. Telephone companies added it to their land line voice services. Cell phone companies bundle it in with their voice, and now, text services.

When it comes to media delivery, the I’net has highlighted the difference between the pipe and the content. It used to be, for instance, that the cable run into your home was part and parcel of the media delivery. Netflix and Amazon provided media that was not a part of the cable companies line. That put stress on the pipeline. That resulted in billing anguish that some presented as a net neutrality issue. This is a time of change and business and customers are working to figure out how best to connect content to consumer.

Gigaom describes How over-the-top video actually helps the cable industry.

“Cable companies are increasingly stuck between a rock and a hard place: On the one hand, they’re stuck feeding the big-media beast, which demands that they pay more to content partners for the programming that runs on their systems. On the other, they’re faced with a gloomy economy which means that fewer subscribers can pay for that content. That conundrum has gotten some cable execs actively talking about shifting their focus from traditional pay TV services to offering broadband services as their anchor products.”

In other words, cable companies no longer have to decide what media to buy to fill the bandwidth available on their hardware. They can let you do that and pay directly for only that content you choose to consume.

Video on Demand and alternatives to cable such as satellite TV were steps in this direction. The whole idea of leaving mass content providers completely is another part of this.

Offering attractive broadband packages is one way that Cablevision could keep those subscribers, without having to worry about rising content costs. And it’s a way consumers could choose what content they want to watch or pay for, without paying for hundreds of cable channels they don’t watch.

That would probably stimulate the ‘cable TV channel’ only media outlets to broaden their distribution mechanisms to support individual access via I’net. That change is happening but still has a long ways to go.

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