I was thinking that the TV executives who hate MythTV like things do have a point that if you strip out the commercials, it does cut into their paychecks. I don't agree that its "stealing", as I don't think you can steal something that's being dumped into the environment. However I can agree with the idea that commercial skipping does reducing the market value of a TV show to those who are paying for it (AKA advertisers who are paying for eyeballs).
However AppleTV hints at an interesting possibility, they offer a "subscription" which will somehow deliver an entire season of a show to your hard disk (in some severely DRMed format). It might be an interesting alternative to television being funded by advertisers, though I'm unlikely to submit to this part of Apples World Domination Plan.
However my girlfriend has complained about this model, as it appears she likes the TV as background noise, so she wants to watch "whatever is on". My guess is that means, she doesn't want to have to pick what things to watch. She also thinks that paying for all the TV that you want seems very expensive to her. Though given the frequency with which she watches reruns there might be some crossover point where the cost of a few hundred DVDs is less than some number of years of cable bill. (Also kicking the cable company gives me more choices for internet access).
I have seen hints online that some people have found that for modest TV viewing habits, the AppleTV + NetFlix is cheaper than cable, and can be pretty close to commercial free. The major downsides are that you have to wait and not everything is available this way yet.
There's this worry that "On Demand Video" might overloading the internet. My question is why does it have to be on-demand? If you've stepped into the world of Personal Video Recordings, as long as there's a big enough buffer does it really matter when something appears in your queue? My MythTV server (using the default MPEG2 encoding) currently has "283 programs, using 417 GB (7 days 23 hrs 19 mins) out of 466 GB (25 GB free)." Other encodings could hold significantly more.
Even if myth stopped recording, it would take us couple of weeks to get through that. Implying to me that something like NetFlix is a perfectly reasonable way of distributing media files to people who are used to PVRs.
I wonder if it'd work, where the first few episodes of a show are free, and then the producers switch to selling the rest of the work. (Somewhat of like what the recent Battlestar Galactica handled their launch).