Apparently, we’re not the only ones cancelling our cable TV subscriptions to enjoy free Internet programming from the likes of Hulu, YouTube, and more. And cable companies are feeling the pinch. After losing enough customers to Internet-only packages, New York’s Cablevision is fighting fire with fire by bundling the option of Internet TV alongside traditional cable programming.
The company’s so-called “PC to TV Media Relay” will essentially act as a big, invisible HDMI cable, allowing customers to pipe anything from a PC display onto their televisions through a dedicated channel that they can flip to on their cable boxes. On the computer side, it will only require a simple software download, which will link up the PC with the corresponding cable channel and display everything on the screen – a clever workaround that should allow consumers to enjoy all the same content they typically do, whether it’s downloaded seasons of Lost, the latest episode of Modern Family on Hulu, or a slideshow of family vacation pictures.
The biggest caveat we foresee here: Users will still need to use the computer to control content, whether that means queuing up content from a laptop on the couch, or using a wireless mouse and keyboard to control a desktop in the other room. Depending on the technologies Cablevision employs to send video data from desktop to cable box, recompressing video that has already been compressed once to send it across the Web could also potentially cause some image degradation.
“With our PC to TV Media Relay service, we are putting an end to the need for families to huddle around their laptops or PCs to watch content together,” said Tom Rutledge, Cablevision’s Chief Operating Officer, in a statement. “This new service will make it easy for our television customers to take broadband services including Internet video, as well as family photos or anything else displayed on a computer screen and move it to the television with the click of the mouse,”
Cablevision, which provides service to 3 million households in the New York metro area, will begin rolling the service out in June as trial run, with pricing yet to be announced.