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Really remote control: Cable wants to drive, but will you go along for the ride?

Interesting peek at the future of the TV business today in via the AP, courtesy Comcast COO Steve Burke. diddy-loves-tivo.jpg

Essentially, Cablevision has been trying out a new magic box that will allow customers to retrieve recorded TV shows from their cable company’s system, rather than from a TiVo-style hard drive.

The ramifications of such a switch in content control from consumer to cable company would be substantial. For one, if the cable company is doing the recording at its ‘head end’, presumably, the cost of the magic boxes goes down, and more people might pony up for ‘em.

Said Burke,

“It’s a very good idea, very well thought through,” he said at a Bank of America conference, adding, “If it all works out, I’m sure the rest of the industry will follow.”

Well, not so fast. Whether it works out, of course, comes down to whether people are willing to trade control for cost. m-short.jpg

TiVo‘s appeal, naturally, is all about control – not just control of time-shifting, so you can watch “Battlestar Galactica” in a drug-addled haze at 3 a.m. after you get home from your all-night raver.

It’s also just as much about control of the advertising. Presumably, a cable company-controlled TV recorder wouldn’t allow you to skip the commercials.

While this is the whole point of owning a TiVo, it’s the underpinning of most of the TV business.

From my standpoint, there’s no point in letting Brian Roberts be your wheelman if you’re just going to have to make a whole bunch of pit-stops in Commercialsville. That, my friends, is where the squares live.

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