Why Internet TV Is Ready To Join Obama
But for a vast majority of people, how they plan to consume this experience is different than in years past. For the first time, audiences will turn to the Internet, specifically to live Internet television, to partake in this once-in-a-lifetime occurrence.
There was exponential growth in Internet television viewership in 2008. With the launch of Hulu, the sustained popularity of YouTube and the success of broadcast Web sites like ABC.com, people migrated to the Web to get their news, sports and entertainment on-demand. As such, programmers determined that in order to maintain audience loyalty and uphold ad revenue, embracing the Internet as a viable medium for their television programming was a necessity, not a novelty.
In September, the Democratic National Committee Convention (DNCC) was broadcast live on the Internet on a number of both domestic and international Web sites. And viewers tuned-in in historic numbers. In fact, DemConvention.com received 3.2 million visits with more than 350,000 hours of viewing time. By week's end, the average viewer had watched 80.4 total minutes of coverage.
The success of the DNCC has led programmers to put an important emphasis on Internet television coverage of the inauguration. In a recent interview with The Associated Press, Sean McManus, president of CBS News stated that:
"There are a lot of people who are going to be captivated by the entire day, and a lot of them are not going to be able to have a television set in the office, or have access to a television. The online coverage has a much higher priority than it has in the past."
But is it simply just the availability of the inauguration online that will drive viewership, or is it the quality of the program that will determine overall ratings? Going back to the DNCC example, Rafat Ali, editor of the Web site paidcontent.org stated that:
"Every major site and TV network is streaming it (the convention) online in full ... But the most awesome ... online video feed is on the official Democratic convention site ... it certainly shows how great HD video can look online."
It's no secret that with traditional television, quality drives viewership. And the same can now be said for Internet television. As Internet television continues its evolution into the mainstream, audiences are not just expecting, but demanding a high-quality viewing experience similar to that found on traditional television. And the quality of this experience is not limited to PCs or laptops but extends to any Internet connected device including mobile, set-top box and gaming consoles.
We all know that 2008 was a monumental year for Barack Obama. But for those of us in the media businesses it is important to know that 2008 was also an important year for the Internet television industry. As the new president deals with the struggling economy, wars abroad and other domestic and foreign issues, it will be Internet television, not just traditional television that delivers all of the important news to the American people. And those Internet television providers that view this opportunity with as much enthusiasm as we do, already realize that the quality of the Internet television experience is of the utmost importance to the success of each programmer. Good luck to President Obama and the Internet television industry for years to come.