October 31, 2005 4:00 AM PST

The Internet and the future of TV

Imagine a day when you would be in total control of creating your own TV channel lineup.

Instead of subscribing to a service from a cable, satellite or phone company that might offer you hundreds of channels you'll never watch, you would be able to select what you want and watch it on your own schedule.

That day might not be so far away. Slowly but surely, content that's broadcast over cable networks and through satellite providers is being distributed through the public Internet.

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. Software has been developed to ensure the quality of video distributed over the Net. 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.

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. Earlier this month it introduced an iPod that plays videos, and launched a department in its iTunes store that sells episodes of popular TV shows, such as "Desperate Housewives" and "Lost," along with a handful of animated short films and music videos. All video offerings sell for $1.99 apiece. While the iTunes video library is limited today, it's clear that Apple's approach is shaking up the entertainment industry and a new distribution model is emerging for video.

So far, content providers are treading lightly as they open new Net-based distribution channels. For example, Comedy Central's new MotherLoad Web site, which launches Tuesday, will offer only select clips of content rather than the full range of programming available on Comedy Central's cable channel.

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.

"Producers of content want as many forms of distribution as they can get to reach their audience," said Vito Palermo, founder of a start-up called Portola Networks, which is in the early days of developing technology for content providers to manage the distribution of their content over the Web. "They would love to cut out the middlemen, but the economics must be compelling. Technology is an enabler, but there are a lot of other dynamics around consumer behavior and the business model that need to be in place first."

Much of the infrastructure to provide broadcast quality video directly over the public Internet is now available. Companies, such as Kontiki and EdgeStream, have already developed software to secure content and ensure the quality of streaming video.

"We have developed technology that mitigates latency on the Internet and tunnels video traffic through congestion, so that a user on the other end never experiences errors or packet loss," said Rajeev Sehgal, chief business development officer for EdgeStream.

Start-ups like Portola, which is still at least a year away from launching a product, are developing management tools for content providers who want to bypass the traditional cable and satellite distribution models and deliver directly to consumers via the Internet.

"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."
--Scott Sahadi, VP of corporate development, Kontiki

EdgeStream has already struck deals with several content providers, including Digital Identity in Italy, which enables more than 75 percent of all the streaming traffic on Telecom Italia's network; TV Plus in the United Kingdom, which offers popular Russian movies, cartoons, documentaries and classical music; and SkyPerfect Communications, Japan's largest satellite TV broadcasting services company. Earlier this month a Web site called Bollywood.tv, which uses EdgeStream's technology, launched a service that offers more than 730 Indian movies over the Internet.

Kontiki, which has developed software that applies digital rights management rules to ensure video isn't ripped off, is also seeing more content providers, especially those outside of the United States interested in distributing content over the Web. The BBC started testing Kontiki's technology in 2004 and is now

CONTINUED: Keeping an eye on Google…
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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
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)

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>

Posted by J.P. Larsen (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
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
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
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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