Saturday, January 20, 2007

Repost: Internet TV is Now

Fundamentally it's the wrong question.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Streaming Online Content to TV Has Some Worried

New products from Sony, Microsoft, and Slingbox that allow consumers to
stream content from their PCs - such as YouTube videos - onto their televisions
were among the myriad devices shown off at CES this year. And they might
yet challenge traditional media distribution channels and strategies, such as
cable TV's video on demand services, writes Reuters.

However, consumers are currently unwilling to pay more for a device
that lets them view PC content on TV screens, according to a poll of 5,000 U.S.
homes by Forrester Research. Moreover, the bandwidth constraints of current
broadband services essentially rule out downloading or streaming of
high-definition programs.

Moreover, DirecTV, a rival to cable, is already in talks with YouTube
and MySpace to let viewers watch content directly on TV - without needing to use
the new devices.

It's not a question about WHO or HOW content gets delivered, it's all about being entertained versus being bored.

It's the networks that have created the universally understood whine "There's nothing on TV!" All DirecTV did was change the wording to "There are 1000 channels and there still isn't anything on TV!" This tells me that these two entities are not meeting the needs of their consumers and are going to be knocked out of the market the second something changes unless they are very, very smart or very, very lucky.

Right now there are only a few people that would pay extra for the content that's available on the Internet; not because they want it coming from one the current TV services, but because the quality of the content stinks. And I seriously doubt that even 2% of the videos on MySpace will ever be compelling. And I believe the jury is still out on YouTube's being the "go to" place in the future. (But that's another post.)

Generation Content (and the geeks that mostly stay on the edge) don't give a damn about the issues raised in the above article . They care about being entertained and they have all the tools in the world to find what they want. And I mean "they" the individual, not "they" the generation. This is a huge new concept that is not familiar to the today's TV services.

This blog (along with every other blog on the planet) is the equivalent of a TV Channel. I organize videos I like and people who trust my tastes may watch them. It's not a question of how these videos get delivered. I could easily say "Watch House on TV tonight", but ultimately it's much more convenient if I post an link with the channel and schedule information.

Some people get paid to do this (TV networks and Big Name Bloggers). I don't and I don't even mind. It's not why I do it. So, the question really is, do consumers need formal channels (blog or TV)? Not really. They know how to use Google. But maybe if the channel brings enough individual value to the relationship there's still a place for it. This is something TV networks have been struggling with since cable.

When I knew that Bill Gates was giving his keynote at CES I was a bit surprised that I couldn't tune in and watch it on my TV. I could get it on my computer. Same with Steve Jobs and the Apple iPhone announcement. And if Gene Roddenberry was alive, do you really think that he would put up with all the stuff the network put him through when he knew he could easily release his videos directly on the Internet? This would give him a great revenue stream, with no censorship, full creative control and no middle man. There are millions and millions of content streams and no TV network or distribution medium is going to be nimble and smart and fast enough to catch all but a very small percentage of them.

Another point that is missed is that most homes already have dedicated Media Center PC's. "Whaa??" You say. In the next year or just about everybody will be buying a new PC to run Vista. What are they do with their old boxes? This may not happen next year because the content on the Internet still stinks, but once it crosses a threshold, it's going to go fast.

And I don't buy for one second the argument that connection speeds are not fast enough. Hello!! We used to sit through 12 minutes of commercials for every 30 minutes of TV shows. I guess people without digital recorders still do. I almost never watch "live" TV any longer. What makes anybody think that I suddenly would if the content was coming into my house from a different plug? There is an hour long delay when recording an hour long show and it doesn't stop anybody from loving their digital recorder. Still, I think watching live TV is the corner case.

The most common case is that people will RSS (subscribe) to content conglomerates (Web Pages / Blogs, Celebrities, Producers, etc) that they like and as new shows become available consumers will have the content automatically downloaded to their digital recorder (computer). They will watch what sounds good to them and delete the rest. Every Media Center PC will have it's own TV schedule. To compete in the future, TV cannot be a question of watching what is on, or worrying about who it comes from, but purely the individual quest to be entertained with as few hassles / hurdles/ interruptions as possible.

Update: One last note. The creation of information has always moved from the hands of the very few (i.e. Monks writing books for Kings) to the masses. It's an unstoppable force that shows up with every new form of ordering information. Along with this are the people who say it will never happen! It kind of makes one feel all warm and fuzzy that things are so predictable!

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