Bell Canada: Clueless or Hubris?

Bell TV Anywhere

I was on my way somewhere the other day and happened upon a Bell Canada van, one of those white Ford Transit Connects. On the side of it was a banner that I should have taken a photo of — as inane as it sounds I’m nearly certain it was something to the effect of: “Choose a screen. Be delighted.”

When I got back home I checked out Bell’s TV Anywhere site which, sure enough, is filled with smiling users happily consuming television on their smartphones and tablets, along with a video tutorial demoing how easy it all is.

Does anyone actually pay for this stuff?

I guess I could see a use case if you rabidly follow your favourite sports team. And I don’t doubt that this particular product is meant to woo customers from more forward-thinking alternatives like Netflix. But I don’t agree at all with Bell’s notion that people buy high-powered phones and tablets just to consume traditional TV. In fact, I find it quite insulting.

It’s not to say that I don’t consume content on my phone and tablet. I do. When I’m not interacting with important people in my life I’m most often on the hunt for stories to post in the news round-ups here, which I usually find on any combination of Feedly, Flipboard and/or Twitter. I passively consume content too; my Nexus 7 tablet is particularly great for books and games. I even watch videos from time to time — there’s this thing called YouTube that you may have heard of…

I just can’t shake the feeling that Bell is completely clueless when it comes to how people use their mobile devices. Either that or the vertically-integrated media empire of BCE has enough hubris to think that if they simply tell us what to do with our technology we’ll comply.

Rather than acknowledge that streaming television is no different from any other form of mobile data they’re offering customers 10 hours of the stuff per month for a mere five bucks. Using this Wikipedia entry as a guide along with Bell’s standard data overage rate of $15 per GB, the equivalent 5.5 Terabytes of non-Bell streaming HD video could potentially cost over eighty-three thousand dollars.

It would be fairly awesome if someone could hack Bell’s protocol for streaming TV and get the equivalent raw data throughput for a fiver. But I’m not at all interested in paying extra for mobile television from Bell, Rogers or anyone else. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I watch TV on the sofa with my girlfriend. I certainly don’t surf the web on my big-screen TV; why on earth would I want to watch a half-hour or more of television on a mobile device?