The Race To Disrupt Television

A blog about business and economics.
Dec. 13 2012 10:30 AM

The Race To Disrupt Television

I got some pusback to my post on how Apple's disruptive television product is already here to the effect of "well, what about XBox"? And, indeed, I don't mean to slight XBox in that post.

What I meant to do was slight the idea that Apple might produce a disruptive new television product in the form of a television set. Their disruptive television product is the one they've called the "Apple TV" and that's probably why they called it that. Microsoft's is the XBox. Sony's is the PlayStation. Google's is the Nexus Q. The point in all of this is that there's nothing wrong with television sets (though presumably at some point we'll see another leap in display capacity to 4k sets), there's something wrong with cable boxes and a lot of discontent with the content bundling model. And the replacement box products are already on the shelves in stores. The challenges are all the challenges of dealmaking to bring more content into the app-based framework rather than the cable framework. As long as blackout rules mean an NBA League Pass Broadband subscription doesn't let you watch NBA playoff games, the à la carte model has not really arrived.

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But the challenge there is not technical in nature and has nothing to do with whether you have an integrated TV-with-a-processor-in-it or a modular TV-hooked-up-to-a-box model. The basic products are already here, though I wouldn't be shocked to see them joined some day by an Amazon hardware offering.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.