You have to go read this new post by BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield. (Registration with a corporate email address is required; just do it.) Then start committing this cumbersome term to memory: virtual multichannel video programming distributors. Essentially, TV over the internet. Not TV shows but TV itself — as in, flipping channels and all that. That’s the near-future of cable, and Greenfield predicts “at least one and more likely a couple of virtual MVPDs will launch before the end of 2012.” He thinks Dish Network and Intel are the most likely to move first, even though Hulu and Microsoft are better positioned to do so. Of course, never count out Amazon.
I’ve referenced this possibility here and here, but I really need to write a longer post with more complete thoughts. For now, I should say that virtual MVPDs are not the ultimate disruption of cable — in fact, they could solidify some of the industry’s least-friendly practices, like channel bundling. But television channels delivered over the internet is heading in a sensible direction. As Greenfield writes, “Video is video, at least to the consumer.”