Will Hulu and Apple kill old-style TV?

Between Hulu and Apple, are the days of over-the-air and cable TV numbered?

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My wife has been asking me for some time now to dump cable in favor of Internet-based TV. Even though I've been using media extenders like the Apple TV to watch my own server-based video library and Internet-based TV for years, I've been reluctant to make the move. Why? Because, even now it's a pain sometimes to get the setup to work right and some of the shows I want to watch weren't available in formats I could easily watch on my television. Things are changing now fast.

First, technically speaking, it's getting much easier to set up connections between the Internet and your TV. In my own case, the Sony BDP-S570 Blu-ray Disc Player, which also includes Internet streaming support for Amazon Video on Demand, Netflix, and many other Internet video services, has made watching movies off the Internet dead simple. For my BBC TV fix -- I've been a big Doctor Who fan since Jon Pertwee played the Doctor -- I usually rely on my Apple TV to stream videos from my servers.

But what's been missing from all this is a cheap and easy way to watch the current TV shows that I like such as Burn Notice, Community, and House. Yes, of course, I could watch these and other shows on one of my computers. But, when I want to watch television, I don't want to be watching it on a laptop or in my office. I'd much rather be watching it on a big-screen HDTV with my wife and friends.

That's why I found the news that Hulu was going to start an 'all-you-can-watch' TV service very, very interesting. Once this service is rolled out, I'll be able to watch almost all shows I like, when I want to watch them, even if I've forgotten to TiVo them. And, I'll be able to do this with my existing hardware-Sony DVD and TV support will be coming later in the year-for $9.99 a month. With my cable service I have to pay $89.99 a month, which includes such 'winners' as Jewelry Television, GSN (game shows), and the Home Shopping Network.

Hmmm ... I don't think this is going to be a really tough decision.

In addition, Apple, which could have owned the Internet television business if Jobs hadn't been so clueless, seems to be getting ready to take it seriously. According to a report in the New York Times, Apple seems to be getting ready to re-invent its approach to television. They'd better. If they don't, Hulu and Google with Google TV may shut them out.

But, one thing people haven't been talking about, is who's really going to be shut out by these developments: cable companies and OTA (over-the-air) TV channels. As these technologies go mainstream, these businesses are going to be in a world of hurt. It will take years. After all, not everyone has the broadband you need to make Internet TV viable, but the day is coming when their current business models are going to fail.

After that, the television networks will end up in trouble. Think about it. In the music business, people now 'buy' singles rather than albums. In the future, more than ever, people will watch television series, not television networks.

It's going to be interesting to see how this all plays out. But, in the meantime, I'm just going to be glad to pay for and watch only the shows I want to see while ignoring the rest.

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