#2. All the Giant, Shitty TV Companies Are Merging into Giant-er, Shittier TV Companies
One of the basic rights of every American is the ability to get pissed off at your TV company and tell them in an indignant voice, "Why, I'm taking my business elsewhere! Good day, sirs!" (Then you pretend they replied something and add "I said good day, sirs!") Guess what? That might be going away soon, too, and the government is just gonna let it happen.
You might be thinking, now that fewer people are relying on cable and more are watching broadband streaming, shouldn't all the juggernaut TV companies just wither away and die? Well, that's part of the problem -- they aren't going without a fight, and in a desperate attempt to stay afloat, they might seriously end up merging into supergiant conglomerate companies that will make S.P.E.C.T.R.E. look like a mom-and-pop operation.
"Just one more thing to decide: Do we worship Baphomet or Cthulhu?"
This isn't just us putting on our tinfoil hats. In February, Comcast and Time Warner Cable started talks of merging into one company, and just a couple of weeks ago, AT&T began plans to buy DirecTV ... which is only a month after AT&T was found trying to get in bed with Dish Network. Yes, at this point, the relationships between big television companies sound like something straight out of one of their daytime soaps. That Warner/Comcast merger ("The WC," probably) would cause 30 million customers to fall under the same umbrella, while the DirecTV/AT&T one ("DirecTV&AT&T") would result in a ball of 26 million subscribers. More people would subscribe to that one company than live in Australia.
Those are scary numbers, but wouldn't the FCC stop something like that from happening? Nope, they've already said they wouldn't do shit about the Warner/Comcast one, because technically, there's little overlap in the areas covered by both companies -- we're sure the fact that the FCC is run by former Comcast lawyers and TV lobbyists is just a funny coincidence. What they're conveniently overlooking is that, even if these companies weren't directly competing with each other, the resulting hypermegacorporations would be big enough to bully everyone they do compete with into having their own way. And if there's no competition in a specific area? They can raise prices and no one can do shit about it, and there's no reason for them to give a crap about improving their service.
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"Hi, I've had nothing but static for two w-"
"Want six? Shut up."
Thank God for streaming services, right? Not so fast ...
#1. Ads Are Not Going Away, Just Getting More Intrusive
One of the greatest things about streaming, besides being able to binge on shows until your limbs rot and fall off (because who needs limbs), is getting away from five minutes of commercials for every 10 minutes of show. Unfortunately, the advertisers are catching up, which is why they currently have their top scientists working in shifts to come up with bullshit new ways to sell you crap.
For starters, Hulu is offering something called "In-Stream Purchase Unit" that will let you buy things without even leaving Hulu, just in case your fat ass can't wait another few seconds to order your pizza.
Don't you dare make us hate pizza, you sons of bitches. We will cut you.
OK, admittedly pizzas are pretty awesome, but think about what this means: You'll be watching a show where a character is wearing, say, a cool hat, and you'll see an ad pop up telling you, "Buy this hat. Do it. Buy it now. Come on. WHAT ARE YOU, A PUSSY?" (or something to that effect). In fact, there's already a steady increase in "shoppable shows" employing a new technique where they sell advertisers the right to dress their actors up in whatever clothes the companies want, which are then offered for sale on the official website. So, every time you see your favorite Game of Thrones character wearing a giant Nike logo shirt, you know who to blame.
"Wait until we make them use Trojans for the sex scenes."
And hey, if you're the type who likes to text and play games to avoid the commercials, they've got a solution for you too -- companies will soon be able to play their ads on your TV and phone simultaneously. You can bet your ass they'll start showing the same ads on every screen in your house as soon as they figure out how to do that.
Oh, and speaking of screens, the CEO of DreamWorks has predicted that in the future the price we pay for downloadable content will depend on the size of the device we watch it on. So a large screen TV could cost you 15 bucks per movie, while a smartphone will run you nothing more than $2. That's great ... if you aren't a penny pincher, in which case you'll never watch a full-size movie again without feeling completely, irrevocably guilty.
In short, we don't know about you, but we're gonna start investing in this other new invention we just heard about called "books."
The third part of XJ's epic science-fiction novel is out now on Amazon. The first $0.99 novella can be found here, with Part 2 out here. Or leave a review and get a free copy! Poke him on Twitter and follow him on Facebook.