Commentary

We Just Can't Boil The Video Ocean

I tend to lump video viewership into traditional "offline" and "online" buckets. My rule of thumb over the years has been that the more complex the video delivery solution, the larger the audience it serves. For instance, when watching broadcast television, the video signal is transmitted via satellite transponders, turned around onto an antenna, and fed via fiber to the cable head-end: a complex and expensive process when compared to Internet delivery.

Technology units can get easily bogged down when implementing even the slightest changes to how content and data is transmitted to the traditional bucket. In addition, for every upgrade incumbents make to their plants, the user base of DVRs grows. This growth is destabilizing the metrics of the traditional pipe. Maybe it would be easier if video distribution was just moved wholesale to the Internet? But that would defeat the purpose of why the traditional distribution system must exist. Traditional television distribution, in my opinion, will continue to keep most of the video traffic off the Internet so both distribution pipes (television and Internet) can then work together to deliver a superior experience to the end user.

I look at it as if the eyeballs load-balance both pipes. There is no reason to eliminate one for the other. At this time, even though video portals seem to have captured our attention, we should be focusing on interactive television trials and current deployments. For instance, there are probably over 100 companies -- from hardware to software -- helping to bring traditional television into the interactive and digital world.

Each marketer has response goals in mind when launching an online campaign, whether through social media or online advertising. Since television is becoming an interactive medium, "click-through" goals should be established. Granted, it will take time for clickable television technologies to catch up to the online world. But our future clearly includes interactive television (including on-screen widgets and walled gardens), so marketers should be formulating plans today to replicate their online successes through television.

There is no denying that a big chunk of TV viewership is permanently leaking onto the Internet. Internet viewing is growing. However, traditional TV viewing is also growing. The challenge then is for marketer to establish their own business rules -- and consumer response goals -- to help move their traditional video business forward. Marketers, I believe, won't be able to properly identify the emergence of any video "killer app" until they first establish their clickable TV benchmarks.

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2 comments about "We Just Can't Boil The Video Ocean".
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  1. David Zietz from Full Sail, January 26, 2010 at 1:44 p.m.

    You make some interesting comments and they make sense. Principally because as anything grows, it does so off the base from which it originated, keeping the parts that work the best and improving on the ones that don't. So we will likely see some sort of harmonious video delivery ecosystem arise out of this transition.

  2. Jeff Bach from Quietwater Media, January 26, 2010 at 11:36 p.m.

    Always good food for thought.

    But I think you are rushing things a bit. Until I quit seeing articles about how TV viewership is STILL increasing and hovering in the "tens of hours" per month average, while video viewing is still in the "minutes per month" average - I think an article like this should contain many caveats.

    As much as I want new media to get up and go, it is still clear to me that traditional TV is going nowhere fast.

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