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Cable vs. Telco vs. Internet Video

Everyone’s been pretty polite, but the gloves are off in the battle for living-room TV. Forget the specific companies in the fight, entire industries are battling for a piece of the television 2.0 pie. It’s not a new fight. We’ve been talking about it for several years now. But I thought now might be a good time to look at a snapshot of the industry players.

Financially the cable operators have had some banner quarters, but the Wall Street Journal has an article today talking about how cable’s growth may be slowing. If it is, the industry still has a few aces up its sleeve. Cable is entrenched in US consumer homes for television and is keeping customers by adding on digital voice. Cable has great content partnerships and an infrastructure that should serve it well (with some upgrades) for several years to come.

AT&T and Verizon are hungry for video customers, which is translating into customer-winning
vz-set-top.jpg innovation. Verizon introduced Home Media DVR (powered by Motorola) late last year to move video around the home, and AT&T’s DVR (courtesy of Motorola) can record up to four channels at once. The telcos have also done well with content partnerships, but they’ve got infrastructure issues. AT&T’s network has run into some bandwidth issues, and Verizon’s spending so much money on fiber rollouts that it’s scared some investors silly. The big telcos are moving in the right direction, but there’s a fair amount of risk involved.

Internet Video after the jump…

Internet Video
No question about it, Internet television has the coolest applications: video search, dozens of different video players and integration with the whole worldwide Web. However, it’s still not the way the vast majority of Americans choose to watch TV. First, there’s only so much user-generated content worth watching. Second, the computer screen is small, and Americans love their big screen TVs. Sure, the industry is working on both those issues (more professional content available, devices to stream video from the computer to the TV), but the solutions aren’t easy or good enough for most consumers yet. And that doesn’t even take into account the quality of video delivered over the free-and-clear Internet. Streaming and downloading both have their issues.

Who’s going to win the battle? Probably nobody outright, but it’s always good to step back and take stock of the players.

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