First, some facts:
1. At the present time, I pay the cable company $52 every month for TV.
2. I only ever watch one channel. Much of the time, I really only watch one weekly show. $52 is the price of the cheapest available option from the cable company for me to access that specific channel. This means that 4-5 episodes of the one show costs me $52.
3. I can buy a full season of that show, 26 episodes, as DVDs from Amazon for $30. Unfortunately, these aren't generally available until months after the end of the season.
4. I can also watch any given episode of the show for free, within a day after its official TV airdate, if I download it off the Internet.
5. The cable company tells me that at some point in the not-so-distant future, they will be able to sell me access to individual single channels in an a la carte fashion. Unfortunately, their timeframe for "not so distant" is "maybe in five years" while mine is more like "by the end of this year."
a) At present, my most sensible course of action (financially speaking) would be to cancel cable television, download what I want to watch off the Internet, and then later on buy the DVDs when they become available.
b) What I'd prefer is a legal way to watch what I want at or near the actual official airdates, for the same cost as a) or lower. Even better than #5 above would be a way to buy realtime access to individual single shows - either in the form of "rent" the way it sort of is now, or actual purchase of each episode.
c) If such legal schemes as b) ever came into being, I wonder what implications they would pose to advertising, the funding of new TV shows, and the entertainment industry as a whole.
Vaguely related: How to sell me music