Internet TV and the coming transformation

There have been a flurry of recent internet / TV related developments this past week: the UK's Channel 4 is to commission programming purely for the Internet. Then vh1 and MTV launched their broadband TV offering.  Of course, news of iPod and Disney's video play has caused a stir.

Jeremy Allaire, who successfully sold his company to Macromedia in 2001, is now CTO founder of Brightcove.  He's written an article at that is worth a read if future of Internet TV is of interest to you:

"We’re in a period of dramatic change within the media and television industry, with a range of macro forces helping to force a collision between the Internet and the world of video and television distribution. This coming transformation—one we will not feel in full force for several years, but which will progress over the next decade—promises to reconfigure the video industry in the image of the Internet. Indeed, the Internet’s forces of openness, global reach, consumer control and participation, and Long Tail economies of scale will create a multimedia universe that no one can fully comprehend."

(I've been posted before on Brightcove and Allaire here and here).

ITPV vs Internet TV

At the core of the view Allaire is pushing is the difference between IPTV and Internet TV.

Robin Good sums up this difference:

"So, what are the key differences between these two radically different approaches to distributing video content via IP and which the related-issues that make them important to me and you?

The choice, for those who can see it, appears to be between a universe of highly diversified and dynamic independent production and one dominated by secure dedicated private delivery networks distributing more traditional types of video-based content largely provided by Hollywood and other established big media conglomerates.

IPTV is represented by a profile of closed, proprietary TV systems such as those present today on cable services but delivered via IP-based secure channels representing a sharp increase in control of content distribution.

Internet Television is instead an open evolving framework in which a very large number of small and medium-sized video producers contribute highly innovative niche content alongside with offerings from more traditional retail and distribution channels.

Nonetheless key differences, being able to appreciate the true nature of these two models remains a challenging task for the uninitiated reader unless she starts to look a little deeper into the differentiating details."

Microsoft is playing in the IPTV space and gaining some degree of success in this space.

But in the long term, which will win? ITPV or Internet TV?  Mitch Shaprio posts on the conclusion arrived at by a new report from Friedman Billings Ramsey (media analysts Alan Bezoza and Brian Coynes, FBR).

"…Looking 10 years down the pipe, FBR sees cable becoming “utility companies providing bandwidth to consumers running different applications over their data access”…FBR sees the “pendulum of power” shifting to content providers, though they will first have to figure out how people are paying for that content (subscription or advertising)…FBR also sees growth in the PC and home networking markets that, it believes, will become the TV sets of the future."

My Crap TV

In the same way I don't 'browse' the web today, I don't think I've sat down and watched, 'surfed' or been in front of a TV in a few months.

What I have watched has been downloaded or streamed over the web. What I watch, where I watch it and when I watch is my choice. Most of what I've watched is free and some of it paid for.

In fact, I've been creating my own tv (well, 'movie' at least). I'm not the only one. Could I deliver this to you via ITPV? No chance. Would you want to site down and watch this on your TV? Let's say that would be highly improbable. But my stuff doesn't need a mass audience to exist.

   (It is crap, don't watch it)

Earlier this week, Cory Doctorow (who gave a talk at Microsoft on the evils of DRM last year) wrote up a piece relating to IPTV and DRM yesterday:

"So digital TV, and TV programs delivered by traditional TV companies over the Internet (IPTV) are considered important policy priorities by senators, congresscritters, MPs, and regulators, who are willing to throw up dumbass regulations like the Broadcast Flag in order to try to ensure that the Internet doesn't render TV obsolete.

Meanwhile, all the video I eat online comes from swarming downloads and cool, open source players like Broadcast Machine, technologies that not only don't need regulation to protect them -- they don't even really need much money."

Doctorow is referring to Darknet, the efforts to control of access to and distribution, the advent of user-created content. And, of course, the pursuits of the failed walled garden strategies that IMHO will surely and repeatedly fail all over again.

So, for what it is worth, my money is on business strategies founded on the internet TV view of the future, not walled gardens.

(Update:Oct 16 2005: BSkyB is making its moves...)

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