The future is almost now

A Wired News writer gives up television for Internet video, and has some interesting things to say about the experience. It sounds like way too much work as a life choice, but a fun experiment.

He talks about networks streaming entire episodes online (which sadly often don’t make it to Canada) and their potential as a revenue source and addition, rather than subtraction, to ratings:

Yet, rather than feel threatened by the internet, the television networks are excited about the traffic. The video streams have single-ad slots about every 10 minutes, far fewer than TV, but still lucrative for the network.

“It is already paying for itself,” Dana McClintock, spokesman for CBS, told me during an interview in early December. “The cost is very small. And the advertisers are very excited about this.”

The networks are not finding that the internet cannibalizes their audience on TV, at least not yet. Jericho, CBS’ post-apocalyptic serial drama, has become a popular clip on YouTube, is available on iTunes, and can be seen free on the web. The multiple means of watching the show has contributed to its success, not undermined its TV ratings, said McClintock.

It also brings up a point confirmed in every bit of research I’ve read on the possibility of the Internet actually replacing TV any time soon:

But pushing content to a larger number just wouldn’t work, said Jupiter’s Laszlo. The internet isn’t architected for it. “Streaming and downloading work well right now, in part because they are not super-popular,” he said. “However, the entire internet might be threatened, if everyone in the U.S. woke up one day and started consuming video over the internet.”

I meant to write something post-Banff about the potential for the Internet to replace broadcast TV – a green paper on The Future of Television in Canada was presented that quoted research on that topic – but never did get around to it. Maybe someday. From that green paper:

The Internet will not dominate high data rate television programming distribution. The Internet is ultimately an expensive way to distribute and access HD and other television programming that would tax its capacity. Television distribution by satellite, cable, fixed wireless, and wireline (through IPTV) is quite efficient, and will remain the dominant distribution system for TV programming. However, there will be the “new television” of video content that will circulate increasingly via the Internet. … If 1% of European households ordered a program, say “Desperate Housewives,” it would use up all the backbone capacity that was installed in the heyday of broadband backbone builds in the 1990s.

Technology is changing, of course. I barely understand what this is, but the Internet 2 project is an example of ways technology is changing to allow for increased bandwidth. I have no idea if the intention is to spread that beyond campuses and research labs. I’m not that much of a geek. (And no, this isn’t the same as the buzzword Web 2.0″ that means everything and nothing depending on who you talk to).

(Hmm, on an unrelated but top-of-mind topic, that green paper also says: “In a study of 18 Western countries plus Canada conducted by Nordicity for Canadian Heritage in 2003 but using 2001 data, it found that in all cases except Canada, indigenous programming dominated the top-rated programming.”)

Why yes, I’m having a bout of insomnia – why do you ask?

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2 Responses to The future is almost now

  1. Bill Cunningham says:

    I took a lot of this info into account when we all got into the discussion re: TV internet over at Denis’s joint. As satellite transmission, bandwidth tech, HD and compression tech converge, the internet will become integrated into homes to replace “traditional broadcast tv” as we know it.

    Right now if everyone went to the web for tv, then yes, it would collapse the web. But as things shake out this will change.

    I like the fact that they feel they are paying for the programming with ads as this indicates a growth market for investment.

    This will spur innovations to the technology even further.

  2. Diane Kristine says:

    Yup, I agree Bill. It’s the way of the future – it’s just not quite there yet.

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