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How Apple TV and Netflix Will Drive Innovation in Canada

In a postlast March, I discussed the lack of innovation in Canada in the telecom and media industry which is dominated by the Incumbents and regulated by the CRTC. The re-launch of Apple TV last week incited me to review what has happened in the sector since I wrote this article.  As we say “Content is King” and I believe the broader availability of professionally produced content online will disrupt the industry and finally bring innovation. 

Films and TV episodes can be rented or purchased from Apple and streamed to the TV. Netflix will launch this fall in Canada and we will finally have access to unlimitted viewing of TVs and films for a low monthly fee. Amazon is also getting in the game.  It is possible Hulu will makes it across the border as well…

So, at the end of the day, if Canadians are able to obtain the content they want to watch for free or for a small fee,  and view this content on their large screen TVs at HD resolution, why would they continue to pay Bell, Rogers or Telus $60 to $90 per month for Satellite or Cable TV? Especially since we don’t watch most of the channels we pay for. Once we can get all our shows, dramas, comedy and films online, we only are going to need a few channels to view news, sports and special live events. 

In a few years, all our TV watching will be off traditional media networks and via Over the Top (Internet) methods. Simply have a look at the new TVs coming on the market from Sony, Samsung and others; they enable Internet access and the ability to obtain content from the likes of Netflix without requiring an external set top box.  Google TV is also innovating in this area bringing a best of breed Internet experience to the TV.

Now back to the topic of innovation and how the availability of films and TV episodes via Apple, Netflix and other “Over the Top” sources will create innovation.  I believe innovation will happen in the form of software applications that take advantage of the huge amount of content that will be available online and of the popularity of social networks. In order to choose what content to watch we will be looking for recommendations and we will want to know what our friends are watching. TV is a very social experience as we love to discuss what we have been watching. Would it not be cool to tell our friends what we are watching, as we are watching it, using an App on our TV’s? And, going one step further, how cool would it be to send them a link so we can watch the content together and chat about it at the same time?

In the world of software application development, Canadians can innovate. Software development, thankfully, is not regulated by the CRTC or controlled by a few giants.