Even if you haven't completely cut the cord on cable, I bet you've streamed some sort of entertainment to your computer, TV or gadget recently. Maybe you streamed a movie or TV show or even watched the last game of the World Series on MLB.TV last night. Pretty soon, you might be able to stream even more of your favorite content from networks right over the Internet. That's because the FCC is proposing a new rule that would allow Internet streaming companies to license content just like cable companies do.
The FCC proposed the new rule because more and more people want to get their content through the Internet, not traditional cable or satellite services. And, it's about time - I've been telling you about cutting the cord on those expensive packages for a while now. The new rule could make it easier to pick and choose which channels or shows you want without having to pay for the ones you don't.
“Consumers have long complained about how their cable service forces them to buy channels they never watch,” [FCC Chairman Tom] Wheeler wrote in an F.C.C. blog post. “The move of video onto the Internet can do something about that frustration – but first Internet video services need access to the programs.”
It's only a proposal right now, so it still has to go through FCC proceedings. But, if it passes, it could give streaming services the ability to compete with their cable rivals and bring you even more of the shows you want over the Web.
Basically, the FCC wants to change some longstanding rules to accommodate Internet streaming services.
Multichannel video programming distributors, or MVPDs, are the companies that are allowed to negotiate with broadcasters to carry content. The proposal, if passed, would allow some streaming services access to this exclusive club. Companies like Netflix and Amazon Prime wouldn't be affected because they're on-demand services and don't have pre-scheduled content, a requirement for MVPDs.
But several companies have expressed interest in becoming online M.V.P.D.s, including Dish, Sony, DirecTV and Verizon.
While those are the same companies many of you already use for cable or satellite, an online MVPD would likely give you more freedom to order shows or channels a la carte, so you don't end up paying for stuff you don't want.
It will probably take about a year before we get a final decision on the proposal. If this sounds like a good idea to you, then you should let the FCC know when it opens the discussion up for public comments.