Commentary

The Internet is The Next Big Thing in Television. Yes, the Internet. Yes, Television.

There are a lot of advertisers out there with major dollars searching for new marketing communications methods and venues. There is a lot of broadband out there, and a lot more every day, with Internet and broadband usage growing and growing and growing, even while many folks turn the other way due to recent burn-out from over-hyping.

Many people who invested in cable television in the 1960's sold out their investments at big losses in the 1970's because cable "wasn't going anywhere". It may be that today the traditional wisdom is also wrong; the Internet isn't over; rather, it's just barely getting started, where cable was in the late 70's and early 80's, when Ted Turner had only the gleam in his eyes but no cable networks.

I think that we've already seen one very impressive expression of this 'next big thing' in the streaming video films which BMW had produced and promoted for web viewing. I think that we can see it every day in the websites of cable television outlets such as CNN and The Weather Channel. And, very soon, I expect to see a Yahoo Channel and Google Channels and many other forms of more or less traditional television outlets pouring their images out of broadband and into TV monitors on and off PC's, in offices and in homes.

In my view, the long awaited phenomenon of convergence is already here and, like the proverbial gorilla in the room, no one has noticed it yet. Take a look, now, because every recent new media development has emerged at an accelerated pace and this one, I think, is about to blow by at tremendous speed.

Program suppliers can see this as a new window for their programs and therefore a new revenue stream, something always devoutly to be wished for in the TV business.

Advertisers can see it as a new source of rating points, a way to regain or at least gain some time with the eyeballs that have migrated over to a new sort of screen.

And media buyers and planners? Well, hop to it!

Gene DeWitt, an independent media consultant, is a leading media strategist. He founded DeWitt Media Inc. and Optimedia Inc. and most recently was president of the Syndicated Network Television Association.

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