Now that we can watch pretty much anything online, whenever we want, access is no longer the big issue - experience is. As the Internet becomes a more ubiquitous delivery mechanism for entertainment, electronics companies and content partners are working to reconcile online content delivery with the traditional, relaxing, lean-back TV watching experience that most viewers still want in their homes.
The hardware side is covered - Web-enabled TVs swept CES back in January, with new models from Samsung, LG, Sony, Panasonic, and Toshiba planned for release this year. Sony's XBR9 series will come equipped with Yahoo Widgets - user interfaces developed to help bridge the navigational gap between traditional cable and the Web.
For the majority of people who won't immediately buy a Web-enabled TV, other ventures that address both delivery and content, without massive behavior change on the part of the viewer, are emerging. One of the newest is ZillionTV, which allows users to stream shows to their TV using a WiFi-enabled box and a remote control. Viewers can watch ad-supported content for free (there is a one time $50 membership fee), rent content, or buy content to own it. As of now, ZillionTV's content partners include NBC Universal, 20th Century Fox, Warner Brothers and Sony Pictures. They plan to play nice with cable companies, including ISPs in the initial membership contract, but models like this could strip away the fees that companies like Comcast and TimeWarner are used to charging for cable TV service.
All of these experiments are being conducted with monetization in mind. Just as viewers are no longer beholden to a time slot, brands are no longer dependent on whatever the networks offer them. Content producers have recognized this, and are involving advertisers directly with the development of new platforms - another step toward blurring the line between advertising and content, and the intertwining of brands and entertainment.