Commentary

The New TV Ecosystem

This year, analysts expect U.S. notebook sales to exceed desktop sales for the first time, while worldwide cross-over is expected in 2009, with over 125 million portable units sold annually. Sales of video-capable devices such as BlackBerry, iPhones/iPods, Symbian and Windows Mobile smart phones are expected to cross 150 million units during this same timeframe. The 12"-17" inch notebook screens and the 3"-5" inch phone screens are increasingly joining the 42"-65" inch HD TV screens to form the emerging TV playback universe. We call this the New TV Ecosystem (NTE). Of particular note is the fact that all of these screen formats -- mini, mid and large -- are increasingly connected to large amounts of cheap local storage and networked to the Internet. The confluence of these new video devices has created "screen migrating" consumers who are massively shifting their viewing habits to the NTE -- for personal, amateur and professional content.

Every digital consumer uses some portion of the NTE for his news, sports and entertainment content. About half the Xbox and PlayStation game console users recently reported downloading music and video on at least a monthly basis. A recent survey by Universal McCann shows consumers increasingly want on-demand media such as video clips and podcasts. This study highlights podcasts as a tremendously fast growing global phenomenon, with an impressive growth of 133% between June 2007 and March 2008. In fact, approximately 216 million Internet users have downloaded a video podcast, slightly edging out the 215 million who have downloaded an audio podcast in this timeframe.

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A major reason for this growth is due to the fact that podcasting is a RSS (Really Simple Syndication)-based media, which allows automatic download of content directly to the consumer's "hard drive" from the smallest portable screen to the largest TV screen. This facilitates "lazy" consumers who want their content on the device of their choice without investing time and effort to actively visit many different sites, and manually electing to download their regularly consumed content. Consumers today can watch podcast shows on the smallest screens via iPod, Sony PSP, Zune and iPhone; on mid-sized screens using iTunes, and Adobe Media Player or on very large screens using Apple TV and Tivo. This emerging NTE finally seems able to fulfill the oft-quoted consumer mantra "what I want, when I want, where I want."

Consumers are ready and waiting in the NTE. Major media companies like NBC News, MSNBC, Fox News Channel, ABC News, BBC, Comedy Central, MTV, VH1, HBO, Disney, CNN, Discovery Networks, National Geographic, ESPN, PBS/NPR, etc. are proactively delivering podcast episodes in the NTE , but much more content needs to be made available for legitimate downloads. Currently, consumers are satisfying their thirst for downloadable content through illegitimate P2P networks, which offer a broad catalog of free premium content. Wider availability of legitimate premium content, without the licensing restrictions imposed by the old TV era, will help to turn the tide against P2P networks and result in accelerated growth of the NTE, while simultaneously unlocking the latent revenue potential of downloads to consumers, who are ready and eager.

Advertising presents the biggest opportunity in the NTE, with marketers finding it the medium to reach the New TV consumers, who are increasingly lost on the old TV channels. In fact, in 2007, U.S. Internet advertising revenues ($21 Billion) became larger than cable TV advertising and larger than broadcast TV advertising. Internet advertising revenue growth rate continues to outstrip all other advertising mediums. The "first mover" content owners are realizing that they can take advantage of this new paradigm and monetize their content in a form

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