Is TV in for a heck of a ride?

Apologies to GigaOm for 'lifting' a bit of the title of this posting. I just read a piece by Habib Kairouz in the NewTeeVee section of GigaOm entitled "Buckle up: Tratitional TV is in for a heck of a ride"

The gist of the article is that TV has for the most part avoided the disruptive effect of the internet on its business model in the manner that it has affected the print media world. (Please read the article for a much more in depth analysis.)  And thanks to @feliciaday for linking to the article.

A few points came to mind for me while reading it. Here they are:

  • From a social point of view, people will still need to watch their shows at the same time. Nothing is more bizarre than watching someone tweet about something on TV when they are time-shifting with a DVR. I like pausing shows while I step away for a few minutes or when commercials come on so that I can zip past five minutes of them. I also like to pause while I comment/rant about something so that I don't miss anything in the show. If social was important to me, I wouldn't be able to timeshift. The biggest part of social is the interaction between viewers in real time via the comment feed.
  • Commercials embedded at the beginning of video clips which CANNOT be fast-forwarded through may make lots of advertisers happy, but it really pisses me off. The number of ads you get assaulted with watching TV clips is insulting. Fifteen to thirty second ads to watch a 2:30 video is redonkulous. I won't do it. 
  • I am an 'older' person, or as the politically correct crowd (of which I am a total outcast) would say, "a person of age" and I still prefer to watch my TV on a, wait for it... a TV! Especially if I am watching with others, it beats hovering around the computer screen. Of course, you can run cables from the computer to the 50" on the wall, but that is kludgey. Also, in many cases, the quality of the videos off of the internet is vastly inferior to broadcast TV. Yes, yes, I know there are products that provide an interface to TVs and there are TVs with Netflix, YouTube and other media built-in, but none of them are as simple to use as a TV remote and/or a DVR.
  • Advertisers need to face the fact that few people actually watch commercials. With the short attention span of most <40 year olds being the stuff of legend, what makes them think that the viewers are even watching the show? When I zoom through the commercials at 3x on my DVR, I still see the brand but I don't hear the message. Many commercials don't even have a message anymore, it is just flash and imagery and brand. As an alternative, maybe they could start playing the show, flash a 2 or 3 second sponsorship slide where the commercials would normally go, then PiP the commercial while the show plays on.
  • I can see in the not-so-distant future having a feature on your PC/Mac/tablet/phone where you can take a video on that device and 'sling' it to your network-connected TV screen. Your TV would go directly to the video feed and start playing what you were watching and your remote would allow you to stop/start and control the playback. Now that would be cool. (Hey, why couldn't we do that with music as well???)
  • Subscription model for video. Everyone wants to get paid for their work... I get it. I am not a tightwad, but I just cannot bring myself to pay Apple $2.00 to watch a TV show I could have seen for free. I know some people do, and maybe it is because I am a "person of age", but that doesn't sit well with me. Now, I will admit to having borrowed music back in the Napster/Limewire/Soulseek era. I still don't see the serious harm this does, but that is a discussion for another day. Today, I am a recovering musicaholic who gets his fix using Rhapsody. (I have recently signed up for the free version of Spotify, but I still like Rhapsody.) Just about any song I want is on Rhapsody. I can put it on a portable player for a limited time, I can even download it on the fly with my iPhone. $14.95 per month. Does Avenged Sevenfold care if I have played Welcome to the Family 10 times? Do Givers care if I listened to Up Up Up twice, with ten other songs on their album that I haven't even listened to? Why can't I have a Rhapsody for video? Play anything at anytime as long as my account is current. Simple. (The-Asterisk note*: because it is so simple and makes so much sense, this will not happen for a long, long time.)
  • The cable companies, cell phone providers and other ISPs (including FiOS) have long fought the ability for you to get unlimited internet to your device. Especially if the bandwidth is consumed by streaming video. They see this as you raiding their refrigerator. I do not know the economics of the MSO, but if you just look at the numbers, you see that you get 100+ TV channels for, say, $44.95 per month plus if you get all of the premiums, you can be pushing $100 per month. Just how much TV can you consume? Assuming you have a job and something of a life, you may see five hours of programming per day and I bet most of that is spent on the same few channels. (So, if you could just pick 15 channels and reject the rest, would your bill go down? Hmmm. I had the same question about buying an album and only listening to two songs, but that is also another blog post for the future.) Back to the numbers... paying for top end internet speed can run you more than $70 per month. What is the monthly recurring cost of that service to the MSO (I am not talking about the infrastructure here)? I do not know what it costs to connect to an OC-192 ring, but if you spread it out across all consumers on their network, I bet it is a pretty low number; and probably a lot lower than what the MSO has to pay TV content providers. So save the crocodile tears for another day.

It is a shame that we consumers have to wait decades for the old ways to die before we can get what everyone will eventually have... a virtually unlimited pipe to the internet delivered to their device. Hell, South Korea has the fastest internet download speed followed by Romania, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Latvia. Freaking Latvia has over twice the average download speed as the US, which is in 26th place. Plus there are HUGE swaths of the US that have absolutely NO option for high-speed internet except for satellite (HughesNet or WildBlue). Just think, over a trillion dollars (that is $1,000,000,000,000) spent in the past two years to stimulate our economy and I still have no broadband in out the country and I am only 10 miles from the nearest town.

I bet Latvia does.

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