Strangled Cables

Fixing the TV.

You know, the worst part about watching the TV is that the whole mess that used to be solved by TV Guide has gotten way the hell out of hand. Have you fired up your average Cable TV Guidance System lately? I bet you have. I also bet you’re just as overwhelmed by it as you’d be if you were asked to man the missile control guidance system used by our military drones.

Pardon my language, but what a fucking mess. On my system, Bresnan Cablevision Optimum, you’ll find that the regular channels start at 2, the random “Who the hell watches this? Oh, it’s Lifetime” channels are in the high 100s and into the 200s, there’s a block of NHL channels on the 400s, the 500s used to be HD, but now their movie channels, but not the HD movie channels, unless you’re going into the OnDemand Movie channels and then yes, they are HD, sometimes, and then the 600s have baseball or basketball or hackey-sack or something else that no one really watches anyway, and then the 700s have the regular channels that were back at 2 but they are now in HD and mostly you can find channel 2 in HD on 702, but sometimes that doesn’t work either, and not all the channels have HD yet, but then…

You know what? It’s just dumb. Stop it.

Last year, HBO released an app. (Stick with me, this is related, and I promise this will all circle around and only make one eye twitch.) HBO Go is a brilliant app, you can, if your cable company isn’t a douche, sign in with your cable company login credentials and watch every HBO original series, right on your iPad. Absolutely brilliant!

Of course, Optimum appears to be powered by a super-secret water-and-vinegar concoction so I haven’t been able to use it, but there it is, tantalizingly beckoning me into the future of 2010. Wooohoo.

If you really think about what this is, tho, it’s a chance for the cable companies to get out of the headaches they currently have and instead to offer up just bandwidth and be free of negotiating contracts with content producers, because let’s face it, if you want Disney (and every cable company wants Disney, they practically have to have it) you’re going to have to negotiate with Disney, and while the Mouse is cute, the lawyers he employs are wicked evil. You want Disney, you’re going to have to pay for EPSN2 through EPSN28 as well. Which no one will watch. Ever. Those are the 400s and 600s of the guide, apparently.

Why would you want to bust your balls with that? You don’t. So be smart, Cable Company, and ditch that shit.

Get with Apple or Motorola and make a new kind of cable box that just has a purchasing interface, and then blocks of channels. You want the locals as a given, great, put them in. You want Disney, it’s $4 a month. ESPN is $4 as well. HBO is $6. Showtime is $5.50 and Cinemax comes in a bundle with HBO and just bumps it up to $6.50 for both channels.

And other than the local channels, you know what you get to watch? Whatever you want, if it’s on the channel, you can watch it as you want. That’s the beauty. It’s TV that makes sense, and the cable company just bills for it, and takes their cut of what you’ve chosen to get.

And that would be awesome.

Which means we’ll never see it.