If there were ever a place where devices like Roku, Google TV, and Apple TV, and services like Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, and Hulu Plus can take off it should be in rural areas and smaller towns whose entire metro area resides in one county. Here are a few of the reasons why I think rural America is the best place for Internet television to take off:
- Smaller towns do not have their own television station
- Smaller towns are more likely to have municipal Wi-Fi
- Cable operators do not want to build infrastructure out to rural areas
- Satellite is the predominate player in rural areas, but satellite is prohibitively expensive
In smaller towns without a television station, Internet television can allow individuals to watch programming from all of the major networks without a local affiliate. You no longer need a local ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, or FOX with Hulu and Netflix. Programming from premium cable services is also available on these platforms.
Smaller towns, and rural areas, are more likely to either have municipal Wi-Fi, or a citizen using the latest technology to make Wi-Fi available to everyone in the community. This means that the Internet is free, or very close to it. One obstacle to the adoption of Internet television, is that individuals have to hang out in coffee shops or public libraries to get online for free, if they cannot afford a $30 monthly bill for their Internet. People in larger cities could care less because it is difficult to get people in large cities to stay at home long enough to watch television to begin with. But in rural communities, where people are willing to pay $150 a month to stay connected, Internet television creates a scenario where citizens could shave $100 off of their monthly bill by removing all cable and satellite programming, and then pay for a cheap Internet connection, and their cell phone bill. In extreme cases, Wi-Fi can be used to do VoIP.
Netflix and Hulu Plus together are only $15.98 a month. Couple that with some vague YouTube app, and you don’t need much of anything else. Even if you add an Amazon Prime subscription, at $79 a year, you’re still coming out cheaper than most of us pay for cable TV.
Cable operators do not want to build infrastructure out to rural areas. That would isolate rural customers from premium cable programming, except that the programming is available through Netflix and Hulu Plus, and, local telephone companies are more than happy to take over infrastructure sold for cheap by AT&T and Verizon, who prefer to make their money in the city. DSL is more than sufficient to watch Internet television; high-definition is a challenge, but standard definition television will suffice for the average TV viewer anyway. Satellite is an option, but Internet television should offer rural customers a lot more for their money.