Can Internet video services ever replace cable?

Leanback

Youtube recently debuted its new Leanback feature, which streams a steady parade of videos based on your preferences. It's designed for Google TV and other set-top devices, with a keyboard-based layout that makes mouseless navigation easy. It joins Hulu Plus and Netflix's Watch Instantly service as ways for users to enjoy their favorite shows and movies without cable. Several devices already offer Netflix streaming, Hulu Plus will be rolling out to the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 over the next year, and Google TV's launch this fall will only expand Internet video options.

With more and more HDTVs, Blu-ray Disc players, and set-top boxes offering more and more Internet-based services, subscription-based cable and satellite television might be facing some stiff competition. CrunchGear's Matt Burns disagrees. He thinks we'll remain married to our conventional television services, and that Internet-based video will remain a novelty. While technically savvy users will enjoy the services, he says, the majority of viewers will shy away from these Internet-based video systems.

What do you think? Are Hulu, Youtube Leanback, and Netflix Watch Instantly the future of television, or will we keep tuning in with our cable and satellite boxes?

Will Greenwald

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