I'm a cable cutter. Not literally. I mean I don't go around the house looking for cables to cut, but I did drop cable T.V. a little more than 6.5 years ago. Not because I think TV is evil, and not because I wanted to be able to say I don't have cable (some people seem to be proud of that). But simply because I was bored of programmed television.
I found myself flipping through channels searching for something interesting to watch and never finding anything I was in the mood for. Or, even worse, finding something in the guide but having to sit through 15 minutes or 30 minutes of another show waiting for the show I wanted to come on.
At the time I was working on the video team at MSNBC working on streaming MSNBC content on the web and mobile devices. My wife and I were also starting to become more and more invested in the convenience of Netflix. Who wants to wait a day for a DVD when you can stream something immediately.
Netflix changed our viewing habits. For the first year or so Netflix streaming for us was about streaming full length movies. Basically an alternative to going out to the movies or to renting a DVD. But eventually we started using Netflix to primarily watching TV shows. I don't think I realized at the time but what I love about Netflix and other video streaming services like Amazon Instant Video is that I'm in control. I decide when and how much I want to watch.
Streaming video on-demand is about being in control of the content. Some days I may not have any time to watch anything, other days I may have enough time to watch a show or two, and sometimes (pre-kid) we'd spend an entire Saturday just relaxing and marathon watching a series.
On-demand video also makes me feel like I have more context between episodes. I'm actually more invested in the characters because I'm choosing to spend more time with them rather then being told when to spend that time (with a scheduled show that may or may not be convenient to my schedule).
All of this is to say that I think current TV programming is only good for live events. Programmed television was made for watching late night TV, Sports, the State of the Union, the debates, or even news. But the days of programmed television for a drame, sitcom, or any other series are over.
So why are the networks only streaming to current cable/satellite customers? It would seem to me that there'd be a whole market of folks just like me who'd be willing to pay $15 a month for on-demand access to network television shows (Hulu anyone?). It seems like the only way for places like NBC, CBS, and etc to complete in the new world order is for them to own their streams and to make them available à la carte.
Do network stations not care about being relevant?