Steve Jobs has gone on the record saying “no music subscriptions” on iTunes. So what about TV and Movies instead? iTunes has so much content these days that I’d probably be willing to ditch cable and go entirely to an AppleTV lifestyle with an all-you-can-eat video subscription. Sure there are downsides but there’s a lot of upsides as well.
These days, iTunes has as many “channels” as I get over cable and more that I do not. Between iTunes and my free-to-air ATSC, my family would have access to all the shows we currently watch plus a huge repository of back episodes and new shows, all available on demand. That’s very attractive.
What would have to change is our notion of “appointment television”. Yes, we could still watch Heroes live because it’s an NBC show but Project Runway and Battlestar would have to wait until they showed up at the store. Sometimes this can take several days or up to a week after episodes air. We couldn’t watch them live and then run over to Television Without Pity to chat. An iTunes subscription model has a built-in “watch it when we have it, not when it’s live or convenient” limitation.
Adding movies into the mix makes it even more attractive. It would make family movie night a lot easier if we could just decide on the spur of the moment what we wanted to see (taking into account the download time) rather than having to pop out to the library a few days in advance to pick up a DVD from it’s already picked-over collection.
Yes, we could do this all now. We could ditch cable today and do an a la carte iTunes replacement. But buying item-by-item gets expensive quickly. For a recent car trip, I let my kids download 10 TV episodes. And once we bought those 10 episodes, they were ours forever. They got stale pretty fast.
For just our standard cable reception (channels 2-99, no premium channels, mostly public access for channels larger than 60), we are currently paying about $60-odd dollars a month. We’d happily ditch that for a less expensive iTunes video subscription at $39.99 a month even with giving up live TV if that money bought us lots of fresh content on-demand.