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Beyond broadcast to IPTV April 10, 2007

Posted by Joanne KY Teoh in Trends, Web Video.
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Watching TV on TV at a fixed time is so 2000. The big ideas of Web video are timeshifting and search. The big questions are when will primetime end and is content still king?

In my recent post, I said TV programming over computer networks using Internet protocol are showing signs of maturing. Major players in the Internet protocol television (IPTV) market are forming a consortium to develop standards for the format.

Digital upstarts are threatening the business model TV has relied on for years. Sling Media, TiVo, Orb Networks and Apple are undermining TV’s profit pillars of advertising, regional programming and syndication deals.

Welcome to open season on the TV content distribution model. Web-connected devices are changing the equation formulated by networks.

Slingbox does away with geography, TiVo redefines the meaning of prime time. iTunes puts popular reruns in users’ hand. YouTube viewers share and distribute video clips. TV? It’s still tied to cutting deals with affiliates based on geography, syndicates reruns and ratings to sell advertising.

Over the next decade, the idea of video content being limited to a single time and device will become quaint. Broadcasting, as we know it, is an artifact of historical limitations on distribution, which are increasingly irrelevant in the digital broadband age.

Kevin Werback, Assistant Professor of Legal Studies and Busines, Wharton

TV’s business model is about control, though still one of the best ways to get mass eyeballs. But TV today is an artifact. A slow growth industry struggling to woo a generation spending more time clicking a mouse than flicking a remote control.

TV giants CBS, ABC and NBC seem willing to adapt but let’s see how they muddle through the changes. Meanwhile, the audience becomes more fragmented, undercutting the ad rates TV can charge.

As video moves online and the Web becomes a key distribution platform, the need for search becomes significant. Consumers will increasingly seek content they want because they don’t want to be told what to see.

TV networks could be in a different medium entirely. Media companies could create a portal where people can get all their entertainment needs met in one place. This portal would allow someone to manage, distribute and mix and match media to load onto a device of choice. Google, MSN and Yahoo seem to be in the best position to help with that.

The wildcards are where technology will lead entertainment in terms of how it will be viewed and distributed. The functionality that technology brings has defined how content is viewed. But what of creativity, the emotional threads that weave human imagination and story telling?

Networks are grasping at digital straws with high definition television. While HDTV offers better quality, it follows a similar distribution model. You don’t have to look too far back in history to see television reinvent itself. But what of the future?

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