October 31, 2005 4:00 AM PST

The Internet and the future of TV

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in the second phase of a technical trial. Sky, a satellite TV provider owned by News Corp., will launch an Internet TV service using Kontiki's service before the end of the year.

"All the pieces are here now from an infrastructure perspective," said Scott Sahadi, vice president of corporate development for Kontiki. "The challenge now is around usability. How do you make it easy for people to access high-quality video content over the Internet while satisfying the rights of content owners and keeping networks safe from viruses? That's what we're trying to do."

Internet search companies like Google are also getting into the Internet TV business. In June, Google launched a new Web-based video search service, which allows people to use keywords to search the company's indexed database of video from content providers that have uploaded video since April.

While some content providers, like Comedy Central, are experimenting with Web distribution, most of them are only doing it tentatively. Executives at Comedy Central say its new broadband-optimized site, called MotherLoad, is designed to complement the existing cable channel and not replace it.

Content providers like MTV, which runs Comedy Central, seem reluctant to move forward too quickly. They are nervous about losing control of their brands if an aggregator like Google provided access to individual shows or clips of content.

"I think some people who talk about Internet TV have been naive in terms of the digital rights issues and the importance of creating a brand," said Jason Hirschhorn, senior vice president of digital media for MTV. "We don't want to sell our content piecemeal."

"We aren't going to react like the music industry, who has been trying to put the genie back in the bottle."
--Jason Hirschhorn, senior VP of digital media, MTV

These content providers also have to consider the behavior of their audience, which is used to paying cable or satellite companies monthly fees for access to channels that they can "surf." The technology may be available to stream quality video over the Internet, but whether or not people will abandon the old cable model to go with something totally different has yet to be seen.

"The demise of traditional television is a folklore," Hirschhorn said. "Viewers want more interactive TV, but traditional TV won't die. Still the best way to reach an audience is through the TV."

But it's clear that content providers like Comedy Central are starting to position themselves for a transition in the market. Comedy Central knows that nearly 85 percent of its viewers have broadband access and tend to be early adopters of technology, so it's not far-fetched to assume that some of these viewers could also experiment with Internet-based television.

"We will go where ever the viewers are," Hirschhorn added. "Right now they are in both places?-on the Net and on cable and satellite networks. We don't believe in shutting people off. We aren't going to react like the music industry, who has been trying to put the genie back in the bottle."

Cable providers and phone companies, such as Verizon Communications and SBC Communications, now entering the paid-TV market also recognize that customers want more interactive content. And many of them are already providing on-demand programming, which allows viewers to download movies anytime they want.

Comcast, the largest cable company in the United States, already provides an extensive library of on-demand movies. On Wednesday it announced it would provide an additional 250 movies every month to its digital cable customers at no extra charge. In total, Comcast customers will be able to select from about 800 movies each month.

Comcast says that its video-on-demand programming is extremely popular. The company has already surpassed one billion total on-demand program views for the year, eclipsing last year's total of 567 million views.

"The traditional TV market is not dead," said Kontiki's Sahadi. "Multiple models will evolve. Broadband penetration and improvements in digital rights management are helping push content providers to look toward the Web. But there will always be people who want to subscribe to a traditional television service."

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14 comments

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Did they forget Apple?
How do you write a story about delivering televistion content over
the internet without mentioning Apple's recent offerings? As far as
I know, Apple is the only one currently offering "The Future of TV"
with it's iTunes Music Store and episodes of ABC's Lost and
Desperate Housewives. Did I miss something?
Posted by vchmielewski (59 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Similar reaction
I was wondering if they would talk about the iTunes offerings and
the new iPod with video capabilities as an example and I was
surprsied to see absolutely no mention of them.
Posted by snackdog (11 comments )
Link Flag
Apple and video
You're absolutely right. It was an oversight, and the story is being updated right now. Thanks for your comments.
Posted by MaggieReardon (140 comments )
Link Flag
Broadcasting??
I wonder if broadcasting has any future at all. The future of TV is in personalization, interactivity and availability of something to watch you actually like, preferably free of charge. E.g. see services such as www.vodio.com, where you automatically record digitally all that fits your profile (on your PC or some huge diskspace at a provider) and then narrow-cast it to a web browser, wherever you are in the world. Gives me what I like at the times I personally like to watch.
Posted by RJ99 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Distributed networks
Hi I think that it should be mentioned that there are powerful software/web offering for the delivery of media content over distributed content networks. Like the offering from How2Share Technologies (www.pixpo.com) and from DivX networks (ProjectNeon)

thanks
Posted by james wallace (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
TV being delivered over DSL now in Japan
Okay, it's not exactly the concept described in the article (set
your profile and watch anytime, anywhere), but service similar to
cable is already available over the internet here in Japan.

I have access to thousands of Videos on Demand (about $2.50/
view) plus about 30 channels of TV from my DSL provider,
Yahoo! BB.
Info in English here:
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://bbapply.com" target="_newWindow">http://bbapply.com</a>
Japanese here:
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://kikaku.tvguide.or.jp/movie/index.html" target="_newWindow">http://kikaku.tvguide.or.jp/movie/index.html</a>

J.P.L.
Posted by J.P. Larsen (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
De-Regulate
Congress and the states need to fix the nation's telecom laws before we can all benefit from IPTV and video choice. It simply womn't happen, otherwise. The outdated, 1970s-era regulations protect local cable monopolies, prohibit consumer choice and drive up costs. If Congress fixes outdated franchising laws, we'll all be better off.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.channelchanger.typepad.com/" target="_newWindow">http://www.channelchanger.typepad.com/</a>
Posted by Hynes (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not as easy as it sounds
"De-regulate" sounds easy, but as we discovered with the aborted de-regulation of the telephone and electrical power industries, those old monopolies existed because Congress realized in the earliest days that some party had to be given an incentive to maintain the infrastructure. The boulevard-suite capitalists who could only see the investment paper and not the hardware behind it pushed for decentralizing the electrical power-generating and distributing industry and the result was that it became nobody's business to build new lines or generating plants. Many states are now caught in an in-between phase where the old monopoly utility companies which were relegated to the status of line-tenders are being begged to resume their old role of regional monopolists for all aspects of generation.

Likewise, the phone companies and cable companies have tried to get through to the FCC and Congress that letting all these experimental technologies access homes through their lines has technical limits and their business models must be considered if these infrastructures are to be maintained (or built in the first place).

No, there's no free lunch. Monopolies have the virtue of ensuring that the playing field will be there, level or not...
Posted by Razzl (1318 comments )
Link Flag
Nails in the Coffin
In terms of the technology, all the elements are falling into place to deliver high-quality video from the Net directly to viewers in their living rooms.

Note that the writer (correctly) made no mention of delivering high-quality video from the Net to portable viewers (iPods and the like). This is important. The cable, satellite and music companies know that access to Movie, Television and Music programming is changing; this is the result of a technological process referred to as Convergence. Id refer you to the 21Jun04 issue of Business Week for more information on that process:
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/04_25/b3888601.htm" target="_newWindow">http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/04_25/b3888601.htm</a>

Apple Computer, which has changed the music industry with its iPod music players and iTunes music store, is trying to do the same thing in the video market.

And Apple will succeed as long as they realize that the future success of such an endeavor is allowing consumers to transfer such video content to their TV sets rather than their souped up iPods.

It's easy to see how the old model for TV might evolve and adapt to distribution on the Net as the necessary technology makes its way into the home.

There is no question about how the old model for TV might evolve; it absolutely will. The change is already taking place. There is no turning back. The companies that recognize that this old model has gone the way of vinyl records will prosper.

And companies such as Microsoft and Cisco Systems' Linksys home division are developing products that enable Internet video to be viewed on TV sets instead of only on PC screens.

Some companies are way ahead of the curve in taking advantage of this Convergence process. Brightbox, for one, has the technology (today) to view Internet TV on your TV,
plus a whole lot more. For up to the minute details on how this Convergence phenomenon relates to Brightbox, see my video blog:
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.my-video-blog.com/" target="_newWindow">http://www.my-video-blog.com/</a>

Internet search companies like Google are also getting into the Internet TV business. In June, Google launched a new Web-based video search service, which allows people to use keywords to search the company's indexed database of video from content providers that have uploaded video since April.

Google is perhaps the best known company that is developing the technology to allow consumers to find and access video that is specific to their interests. But there are others, like: BlinkxTV, Yahoo Video, ComFM and MSN Video. These companies can be viewed as the nails that are being driven into the old model for TV delivery coffin.

Comcast says that its video-on-demand programming is extremely popular. The company has already surpassed one billion total on-demand program views for the year, eclipsing last year's total of 567 million views.

Yes, but the Comcasts of the world are praying that consumers dont realize that there is no need to use such cable companies to access video-on-demand (VOD) content. The Internet will provide such content; the video search service companies will make the content available to the consumer, and companies, like Brightbox, will allow the video to be watched most comfortably: on their TV sets in their living rooms.
Posted by ppdeagle (12 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Give me my digital "TV"!
Give me my digital TV! That's what people are yelling but large advertisers are slow to put their money outside traditional TV and basic website editorial.

Where are all those trail blazing media companies?

Lynne Markan
www.realtimemoms.com
Posted by Lynne Markan (1 comment )
Link Flag
What about the cost?
Did anyone notice the $1.99/vid from itunes? That makes the most expensive cable tv seem nearly free by comparison. If you want to watch 10 shows a week that comes to about $80 per month. No thanks!
Posted by Michael Grogan (308 comments )
Reply Link Flag
cross boundary
The challenge is to cross the boundary between TV network and
broadband. The ideal case is to access same content
everywhere, from livingroom TV to PC, from cell phone to TV.
That is the future of TV. This is hard for a pure networking
company to work with operators, content providers, and also
provide technology. And, yes, US needs to catch-up with other
countries.
Posted by ritachen (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What happened to 'real time'
Working in the media industry and hearing of the rapid growth in real time network services such as sports, news, games, etc I find it hard to see how an asychronouse packet based network will ever economically deliver these fundamentally synchronouse services. We have arrived in a shared virtual environment where nothing is ever guaranteed.
Posted by steveeast (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
SWANsat to Turn Earth into Wi-Fi Hotspot
Imagine a series of at least three geosynchronous orbital satellites providing wireless Internet (&#38; HDTV) access to the entire world. Thats exactly what a project called SWANsat or Super-Wide Area Network Satellite plans to do by the year 2011. They intend to be a global broadband Internet service provider that can facilitate up to 600 million connections per satellite. All you need is a handheld mobile device to connect to the system.
Read more: HYPERLINK "http://www.gizmocafe.com/blogs/gizmo_waydes_blog/archive/2006/08/21/96546.aspx

IOSTAR, SANDIA LABS, ORBITAL. The pioneers of GPS &#38; Teledesic  together with directors such as 4 Star General Tony McPeak &#38; former secretary of US Air Force (Roche) and former Branch Chief of guided missiles &#38; CEO of Western Digital  are coming together for intriguing development called SWANsat.

The Teledesic Chief Architect (now President of IOSTAR) recently made this presentation:
HYPERLINK "http://csmarts.colorado.edu/presentationpages/34_future_of_space/page_01.htm"

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://csmarts.colorado.edu/presentationpages/34_future_of_space/page_01.htm" target="_newWindow">http://csmarts.colorado.edu/presentationpages/34_future_of_space/page_01.htm</a> (intro-nav page)
Posted by swansat_kaching (20 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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