TV: Online?

People are opting to drop their pay TV service (cable/satellite) and watch it online via the Internet — or free over-the-air. So much so that CNN has picked up on it:

Data show that increasing numbers of people relying on the Internet for at least some of their TV viewing. Users watched more than 24 million videos on Hulu in December, a record for the fledgling company. And Joost users viewed 818,000 hours of video in January, up 25 percent from the previous month, a spokesman said.

A recent survey of 3,000 prime-time TV watchers by Integrated Media Measurements Inc., an audience tracker, found that 20 percent watched some TV online.

Don’t think cable companies haven’t taken notice. Comcast launched Fancast, its online TV player, last year to show such hit shows as “CSI: Miami” and “30 Rock.”

“We embrace the online world as much as the offline world,” said Mary Nell Westbrook, senior director of consumer communications for Comcast.

But one thing is certain: The landscape is shifting. And Internet TV services believe that time is on their side.

“The Internet as a TV provider is in its infancy,” said Mike Volpi, CEO of Joost. “We believe that [in the future,] the majority of TV will be viewed over the Internet. It’s mostly cost, but it’s also convenience. People want to be able to travel and move about while watching TV.”

A la carte channel choices and more flexibility in packaging channels is something customers have little power over, so why not take over? The customer is taking over and dropping pay TV services, and but keeping Internet service. Now they watch what they want, when they want, and where they want.  Come to think of it, that was the mantra we used at SES AMERICOM in developing the IP-PRIME service. It was an all-MPEG-4 IPTV service, fully capable of being viewed on any device. Too bad it’s about to die.

Check TV Guide’s online video site for which TV shows available for viewing. Read some of the comments to this Engadget post from December for more.

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