Commentary

Why Not Merge TV And Internet?

Internet video distribution today seems like the inevitable path media companies are going to take in order to ensure their content gets to consumers. But big media needs to figure out a way to operate (for at least the next five to seven years) with one foot firmly planted in today's TV distribution platform, while incubating their Internet audiences.

Decades were spent getting the digital standard ready for prime time. During the process the industry communicated to vendors how to make digital television sets and how new transmission equipment needed to work. This expensive digital TV rebuild brought about a flurry of industry PR by networks on why cable companies should be paying more for HDTV content. Broadcasters have also been trying to play catch-up; they want to see their compensation someday match the cable networks' subscriber fees.

Cable Holding Tight onto Content

As the cablers (like Comcast and Cablevision) renew content agreements, they are also spending to rebuild their cable systems with next-generation transmission equipment like switched digital video and network DVR technologies. These rebuilds put pressure on the cablers to try to manage content costs. In addition, they are simultaneously trying to fend off competitors, like Verizon's FIOS, by increasing available HDTV channels and launching new services (like TV Caller ID). Hence as programmers try to find their own Internet audience, the cable guys want to keep the revenue behind their walled garden, or at least position themselves to share in some of the upside of Internet distribution.

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Impossible Could Be Possible

Once the digital transition fog lifts and the industry looks at the current distribution ecosystem, we might find that TV Everywhere and Hulu (to just name two) should technically be integrated with the digital spectrum and cable distribution. We, for instance, should probably be concentrating our efforts on how to combine the Internet and the digital television experience so consumers get content delivered through one seamless "platform."

Cross-platform technologies could satisfy everyone, including the consumer, while also building revenue streams that are integrated across both TV and the Internet. After all, wouldn't you like to be able to click your TV remote control and move the TV show you are watching to the Internet without missing a punch line?

6 comments about "Why Not Merge TV And Internet?".
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  1. Ray Rheault from EyeMail Canada, September 2, 2009 at 3:01 p.m.

    This post is very relevant to my line of work actually and I wanted to comment on it. TV and internet are rapidly becoming one and the same, take Email for example. It's now possible to send a high quality video, instantly playable in the inbox, to your email subscribers. Imagine, it's like delivering a HD commercial directly to the recipient...very powerful.
    This is just the beginning...

  2. David Culbertson from LightBulb Interactive, September 2, 2009 at 3:14 p.m.

    It's already available, just need to start using it:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPTV

  3. Lisa Reis, September 2, 2009 at 3:36 p.m.

    Re: We, for instance, should probably be concentrating our efforts on how to combine the Internet and the digital television experience so consumers get content delivered through one seamless "platform."

    Agreed...there's already enough fragmentation on broadcast television, let's bridge the gap cross-platform.

    Brilliant article!

    BTW, I can't seem to use your Twitter icon...the Facebook launches, but not the Twitter icon. Follow me and I'll follow you Lisa Reis (Reis' Pieces).

  4. Michael Michael kokernak from buyOTTads.com, September 2, 2009 at 3:39 p.m.

    Lisa -- thanks for the comments. Best way to reach me is through mkokernak@gmail.com or my Linkedin account or Google Reader (all my articles get posted there. I am not on Twitter.

  5. Jim Courtright from Big Thinking By The Hour, September 2, 2009 at 8:29 p.m.

    No matter how hard cable, or any legacy broadcaster, tries to hold onto content, soon content creators will learn they don't need anyone else as a distribution system. They can distribute their content themselves on the Internet. And cut out the middleman. I wouldn't want to be a distributor in a few years. Their model is broken. Content is king.

    Jim Courtright
    Big Thinking By The Hour, Inc.

  6. Ruth Barrett from EarthSayers.tv, September 22, 2009 at 2:31 p.m.

    Who came up with Internet TV? It's on the masthead and it runs through many conversations on the video blog including this one. In the early days of eCommerce no one called it Internet Retail for heavens sake. Channel management is in order. The reason I bring this up, to stay on point, is because the Internet and TV are two distinct channels with different hardware requirements and, possibly, content advantages. The TV, the computer, the radio, the big screen - all peripherals and, as Ray points out, the Internet, made possible by broadband, is able to distribute to all of them. It has not been the experience of computer technology that channels merge, but they either grow stronger, or disappear as was the case with one of my employers, ComputerLand, a distribution/retail combo. Back to retail when it meant stores.

    I attended many meetings in the early '90 here and in Europe where retailers backed off or underfunded or sent to some far flung city their eCommerce operations because it might "cannibalize" their store sales. And eCommerce without a store presence. Forget about it. Amazon was roasted for not performing fast enough, quick enough with their demise forcasted by analysts on the Street.

    The challenge to me is in understanding what existing content and formats works well on which platform (e.g. best sellers on TV back when) and experimenting with new content that takes advantage of the Web as an interactive, database channel with an audience that sites so close to the screen they touch it. We are aggregating video (some audio) content from 30 some channels (of the over 200 available on Blinx the video search engine) based on a query for sustainability, and then reviewing the content for relevancy and quality. Here is what we are learning:

    Content is kings.

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