Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn A. Britt feels that it's a challenge for the average user to get internet video into the living room, but he's apparently not aware of what the competition is doing to make that easier for consumers. In an interview with the New York Times, Britt said that "I'm not sure I know what Airplay is," referring to Apple's technology that lets users send content from their iOS devices and Macs to an HDTV via the AppleTV set-top box. Of course, Apple's content ecosystem is somewhat limited — the Apple TV focuses on selling movies and TV from the iTunes Store, but it also features dominant online video players Netflix, YouTube, and Vimeo. It can also play any video content that's encoded to play in iTunes on the Mac or PC via Airplay, whether it was purchased from Apple or not. Add in the fact that most iOS video apps allow users to send the video feed straight to an Apple TV via Airplay and it seems Britt is missing one of the more consumer-friendly ways to get internet video on a big-screen TV.
It's surprising that Britt doesn't seem more aware of what the competition is doing
Britt even noted that it's "not so hard to get [programming from the internet] on your iPad," but seems to not recognize that Airplay was designed to get that content off of your iPad so you can share it with others. He also seems pretty unclear on how exactly the Apple TV works or what it's for, saying "the current Apple TV, the little thing, the hockey puck, really doesn't do anything to help enable you to get Internet material on your TV." While the content selection might not be for everyone, all the Apple TV can really do is get internet material on your TV. Let's not forget to mention non-Apple solutions like DLNA, or the internet video offerings through the PS3 or Xbox 360, or the many internet channels that come in today's smart TVs, or other streamers like Roku, Boxee, or even Google TV. While Britt may be arguing for more seamless ways for average consumers to get internet video on their TV, it seems surprising that Britt isn't more aware of what the competition is doing in this space.
We reached out to Time Warner Cable for comment, and a spokesperson told us the following:
The point you should keep in mind is that when you talk about technology that claims to be disruptive to the cable business… there are thousands of them. I think what's lost in the post is Glenn's point that… replacing cable set-top boxes with another box that gets TV [content] — gets internet content to TV — is not the main objective of consumers. What consumers want is to get that connectivity without a box.
The spokesperson also pointed us to a second New York Times piece for more on Britt's thoughts about the future of TV and the internet — Britt was quoted as saying "anything with a screen is a TV set, as far as I'm concerned." Adding to that thought, TWC's spokesperson told us that, "while there are complications from a rights perspective, technologically that's where we [TWC] are heading."
Ross Miller contributed to this report.