The Upcoming Disney-Google War
Individual shows, even whole channels, can be brought close to the consumer in this way. Google could even push subscribed content to customer DVRs at night, when lines are less busy, actually reducing what ISPs use as an excuse for charging per-bit for Internet services. (The problem isn't the bits themselves, but the way lots of requests at the same time can cause bottlenecks, as on freeways during rush-hour.)
In other words, Google has the technology to make the threat of unbundling real, and to make ISP's political arguments against Web video crumble into dust.
If you're a sports nut, like I am, this is no big deal. Guys want their games, and we'll pay for them. But not even all guys are "guys." If your taste runs to channels like AMC, Turner Classic Movies or any other set of entertainment choices, Google should be able to give you many such offerings for a fraction of what you're now paying for cable, because of those ESPN rights fees. It could even pay these cable networks more, per subscriber, than cable operators can afford. (If it comes to a bidding war, Comcast is going to dump Lifetime and OWN well ahead of ESPN. Sorry, ladies.)
Sports will continue to drive cable bills higher. As individual teams, even colleges like the University of Texas, get their own basic cable channels, bills are going to go up. So the cost advantage for non-sports viewers Google now enjoys is also going to go up. The incentive for existing cable channels to do business with Google is also going to go up.
Disney, as the largest TV sports operator in the business, is in Google's crosshairs.
Disclosure: The writer owns shares of Google.