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Does location affect your TV channel selection?

The Future of Distribution

As the classic ratings and ad-based broadcast model fades out -- thanks to time-shifting, downloads and online streaming -- we'll see a move toward that global, always-on programming culture. The search is on to find a way to distribute content in the best way possible to ensure that everybody involved profits.

It's easy to sit in front of your computer, Roku or AppleTV and roll your eyes in annoyance that you have to wait an extra month, or even day, for the new episode of your favorite foreign or premium-cable show. But the truth is, at the end of that very long line of businesspeople with their hands out, there's an artist -- a writer, an actor or a musical performer -- who depends on that money for survival and the ability to create more art.

The hope is that this larger, global, networked entertainment culture will, paradoxically, result in a smaller-scale business model. That would mean better availability for you, the consumer, and a larger share of the profits for the actual makers of your media and entertainment.

It doesn't take an entire digital tier of music channels, each with their thousands of employees, or an entire label, with their artist and repertoire execs, to bring you a track -- not when you can just as easily buy it from iTunes yourself, after hearing it on a TV show or learning about the band on Facebook. And isn't that the point of all this technology? To make things simpler?

In the meantime, rest assured that while for the time being your choices are marginally limited by regional and financial concerns, no matter your cable company, you won't have to wait too much longer to see exactly the programming you'd like to see. And not long after that, you'll be able to stream or download your favorite shows the very moment you want to see them. Just give those businesspeople time to figure out the details: After all, they're just trying to make sure everybody makes it out with profits intact.

For more great TV articles, check out the links on the next page.

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