Apple is expected to announce an AppleTV update in some form tomorrow. With that, I am really surprised that no one is talking about the central issue around traditional TV viewing yet to be addressed by these new devices…watching LIVE TV.

The main focus of reviews and forward thinking predictions have centered on:

Complexity of services & devices: How can we eliminate and/or combine the need for all the different services and boxes we use today like Cable and/or Tivo-like devices along with PPV offerings from Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Google or Apple?

Bundling of services: Why pay $100+ per month for hundreds of channels on cable you never watch when all you need to do is just buy what you want a-la-carte?

User interface improvements and findability of content: Why are we still searching for most channels by number as we scroll down an endless list? That notion alone is ludicrous. Employ search in the right way and we will be able to pull any programming we want at any time with ease.

Freedom: Freedom of choice allowing us to watch whatever we want, whenever we want, wherever we want to watch it…and if that choice is at home on a large screen – great!

These are the 4 things that make disruption of the category worthwhile and the main conversation around the category has centered on these points of conversation. For now, devices like Roku, AppleTV and Google Chrome solve these problems while companies like Samsung continue to struggle with their SMART TV user interface.

I would suspect that at some point SMART TV manufacturers may get it right or license the right to use the software, search and content capabilities such as the partnership that Google struck with Sony.

There is even talk of these disruptors reselling cable. If you look at AppleTV you notice that half of the apps/channels loaded on there recently (ESPN is one example) require a full cable subscription to activate. That is NUTS…equally as crazy is the idea that Apple would simply become a reseller of bundled cable. Much more likely is the idea that Apple will offer a-la-carte apps for purchase or subscription from individual networks as they negotiate individual deals and in-effect become an a-la-carte cable service themselves. The point is to get away from bundling and expensive cable packages. But that is most likely for the future as the networks cannot afford to undercut the cable operators by giving a-la-carte options to Apple or Google…at least not right now anyway.

But the BIG thing everyone is missing is the need for LIVE TV.
The single most important draw of traditional TV…the LIVE broadcast. Crucial for sports, news and weather information it is the overlooked piece of technology yet to be tackled with one of these devices.

Aereo is doing it, but it is way too early for them to be incorporated into one of these boxed offerings given they are still in a legal battle and the service is not widely available across the country…yet. If Aereo was available in all markets it would be a no brainer for Apple to incorporate them as ‘the’ LIVE App on AppleTV. For those of you not familiar with Aereo, it is a cloud based service allowing you to simply ‘lease’ a small, remote antenna in order to access FREE HD broadcasts in your market combined with a cloud based DVR service for recording. It would be the perfect match….and maybe in the future it will be.

In the short term, all Apple has to do is include an HD antenna within the Apple TV box in order to pickup FREE HD signals from the networks. That, combined with everything else that it offers, would pretty much kill cable.

If not Apple, someone needs to couple FREE, LIVE TV with this offering.
The unbundling of cable can come later.

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