Primordial Reorder -- Or Just A Shuffle?

Just when everyone thought that the major broadcasters had all bought into video-on-demand in 2006 and that VOD would be THE outlet for demand-based broadcast content, a significant ripple hit the marketplace. That ripple (the overused convergence word)... well, call it Internet TV, and it is now driven by business folks, not the technocrats.

The result is the emergence of the Internet as a controlled new vessel for broadcast-level television content -- one that can maintain the primordial content-to-commercial relationship, and that continues with cross-platforming branding.

Perhaps most important to rationalists and realists alike, consumers seeking good Internet-based television content quickly move to the brand awareness of the big magnets -- ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, etc. And the inverse -- finding high-quality non-broadcast content -- just isn't that easy or seamless. In a world where technocrats have long predicted the growing "ease" of connectivity and the wealth of new digital content sources, the frank reality is that the average consumer must still work to "find" the good stuff to view. And guess where they go? Yup, to branded network sites with all the buzz, where cross-platform promotion is working well.



Now the move from PC Internet to TV is happening in a different vein with the emergence of Apple TV, Sling Catcher, and a host of other remedies already in place to address the "ease" part of the Internet TV equation. There are both closed and open business models unfolding -- and the idea that all PC Internet streaming to the TV comes under the pay model is not something I would bet my precious dollars on. Why? Well, a la carte television just hasn't been totally welcomed at this admittedly nascent stage. VOD is growing but is not yet a screaming success, the iPod is a boom -- but within the natural constraints of a more closed system.

The notion that all Internet TV access will be a pay a-la-carte business model just has my stomach doing somersaults. So after settling down, you have to hand it to the broadcasters, for they have shrewdly adapted their present business model to shuffle over to Internet-based TV. Quickly, not so quietly, without fees, still commercially sponsored, and as branded as traditional TV ever has been, perhaps even more so. So what's next? A lot of niche expansion, to be sure. But somewhere down the line, there will be a real face-off between the primordial reorder of delivery and platforms, versus a shuffle to the next big thing. Or did that primordial thing just happen?

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