TV is stupid. Not the box, not the programming - the industry. The industry tells me that it's ok to use my PC or TIVO or other DVR device to record over the air TV shows and play them back (fast forwarding through commercials) - just as long as I'm technically savvy enough. The industry tells me that it may or may not be illegal to download that same TV show from say BitTorrent or newsgroups. That really makes no sense whatsoever.
Yesterday was the beginning of the end of the TV industry as we know it. Two things happened. First, Apple revamped Apple TV. You can buy a $230 set top box and rent HD Movies for $5. Buy them for $9. Netflix announced that they are giving subscribers access to part of their collection over the Internet. As long as you subscribe there are no limitations to how many movies you can watch. And soon they too are coming out with a set top box.
The next step, which is frankly inevitable (and is why the TV writers are smart) is that TV watching becomes more and more about downloading to a thing that feeds your TV. It won't cost you anything. It won't be delayed by your internet connection. And it will be only light on traditional advertising. Think how much that changes the market for TV.
The networks are even less important. They, in effect are marginalized. Sooner or later a show will make it big with the primary distribution not being on NBC or Fox or Showtime.
The thing is, the evil cable company still has an in - they provide Internet service. The satellite companies? They're done. Over.
And the thing is, I LOVE DirecTv. They have done more to keep my happy as a customer than almost any other company I've ever patronized. They have great customer service, try to keep their loyal customers happy. Ok, so they suck at allowing me to port my DVR'd shows to my PC. But otherwise they are a great company. But really, it is almost inevitable that they are going to go away.