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Who Will be the Big Losers When the Internet Revolutionizes Television?

By Tex Bigballs in Technology
Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 03:07:07 PM EST
Tags: comma-separated, maximum of 10 tags please (all tags)

Bill Gates's prediction this weekend that the Internet will revolutionize television within the next five years was hardly anything earth-shattering. The infrastructure powering the Internet is becoming increasingly powerful, as is the capability of sites such as YouTube to broadcast video to a mass audience.

Gates and YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley predict that the transition to the Internet as a distribution medium for television will carry a profound effect on television advertising. Hurley suggests that the Internet will empower television advertisers to deliver targeted ads depending on who is watching.

And yet, how groundbreaking is this? Aren't television ads already targeted to some degree? One only has to watch the nightly news on major networks to witness how pharmaceutical companies target their ads to a predominantly older audience. Luxury automobiles and brokerage firms advertise during golf events, as do beer companies during football. Certainly, user-specific data provided by the Internet may help fine-tune ad targeting a bit, but this is undeniably an evolutionary, rather than a revolutionary development.

To understand the huge impact that Internet delivery will have on television distribution, one must understand the state of television now, as well as its previous technological revolution.

Cable television has been around since the 1950s, but it was not until the 1980s when consumer adoption of cable really became widespread. In 1972, the U.S. government promulgated "must-carry" rules, requiring cable companies to provide channels that were broadcast within the local area. The problem for the cable industry was that it desired a way to segment its customers and extract additional revenues from premium subscribers.

Making the problem more complicated was the fact that cable was a "dumb" technology in the sense that the distribution company could not choose specific channels to provide to individual customers. Thus, the infamous A/B switch was born. Basic-level customers received only one transmission on one cable, which typically consisted of local networks, and perhaps a small assortment of special-interest channels such as Nickelodeon for children, Lifetime for women, and so on. A collection of premium channels was transmitted on the other cable, but to receive those the customer would have to pay additional fees. Thus, the business model of tiered-television was born.

Tiered-based television continues today, in spite of the fact that modern television distribution technology easily allows the satellite or cable company to activate or deactivate each individual channel to each individual customer. Though no longer bounded by technology, tier-based subscriptions continue to force consumers to pay for channels that they do not want to watch, by inducing them to pay for desired channels.

The ugly part of this is that television companies actively exploit this business model to subvert the negotiation process with cable and satellite distribution companies. Here's how it works. Suppose media giant Disney owns ABC and ESPN, which are both extremely popular channels. Distribution companies must pay content providers "carriage fees" to broadcast their programming to cable and satellite customers. The costs of these carriage fees are then levied upon subscribers in the form of tier-rates.

Let's suppose that Disney wants to launch a brand new channel called "ESPN Classics" which shows re-runs of old sporting events. You might ask yourself, who on this planet would want to watch a baseball rerun from the 70s? If Disney was forced to negotiate the price of providing this channel directly with the end consumer, the vast majority of the population would not even consider paying a dime. The remaining few would probably not pay very much for the nostalgia of watching old sports.

But of course, this is Disney, and since they also control the rights to ABC and ESPN, they can effectively tell the cable or satellite company "either you provide ESPN Classics or we don't give you ESPN and ABC." In 1994, the FCC permitted local television networks to withhold permission from distribution companies to rebroadcast their signal. This afforded media giants who owned major networks vast bargaining power over cable and satellite companies, because they could use rights over local channels to leverage inclusion of fringe channels such as ESPN Classics on lower, more popular, tiers.

At the same time, the end consumer is divorced from the negotiation process. If he sees ESPN or his local ABC affiliate disappear, he's going to be angry with his cable or satellite company. Note that the media giants are clever; they will not negotiate this way with a satellite company and a cable company at the same time. Thus, while one set of consumers is deprived of their precious sports, the media company exerts further pressure by pointing out the fact that the distribution company's competitors are still providing the programming.

Another more recent case is the arrival of the NFL Network. This channel is owned and operated by the NFL and not surprisingly, broadcasts football games. Even though football is unquestionably popular, the NFL network has essentially demanded that distribution companies provide their channel on basic tiers at a relatively high carriage rate. Some cable companies have offered to carry the NFL Network on "sports tiers" but the NFL has balked at this proposal. Thus essentially, the NFL has stated that it would like all cable and satellite customers to pay for football, regardless of whether they actually enjoy it or not.

In the end, this is where the transition to the Internet as a television distribution medium really has an opportunity to destroy the broken business model that persists today, and again empower consumers who have, up until now, had very little indirect power over pricing negotiations.

The exciting thing about the Internet is that not only is there absolutely no need to "tier" groups of channels together, there is actually no need even for channels themselves. Under a truly perfect scenario, content providers would be forced to negotiate the price of every program they produce with customers. For example, just because I want to watch Battlestar Galactica does not mean that I want to watch Doctor Who. I'm willing to pay for one and not the other.

In much the same fashion, iTunes already shows how the growing transition to Internet distribution for music has empowered consumers. iTunes has forced the recording industry to sell individual tracks of music, rather than entire CDs stuffed with unwanted "filler" songs.

HBO may be a prime example of how Internet distribution might revitalize television. Typically, HBO is sold to customers on its own, demanding its own subscription fee, and not bundled with a tier of other channels. Therefore, HBO prospers or fails solely on the merits of its own programming. Perhaps the pressure of directly servicing the customer, ideal in a capitalistic market, led to HBO's success in dominating Emmy award nominations. In 2003 HBO's programming was nominated for 109 overall nominations. Its closest competitor, NBC was nominated for only 77.

On the other hand, selling individual programming a la carte over the Internet could devolve into a race to the bottom where every producer dumbs their programming down to the least common denominator, ensuring its widest possible audience. Even still, is this so much different than the American Idol, COPS, and Friends television we enjoy today?

The way that the market works now is like a buffet-style restaurant with two or three separate serving tables. If you just want to eat a little, you are still paying the same price as the fat pig who wants to gorge himself. With a true Internet model, you would only be charged what you order, and what you'd like to eat.

Or you could read a book.


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Who Will be the Big Losers When the Internet Revolutionizes Television? | 72 comments (62 topical, 10 editorial, 1 hidden)
Interesting (1.80 / 5) (#1)
by apple on Sun Jan 28, 2007 at 04:21:02 PM EST

I must say when I read that quote from Bill Gates today it was the first thing he's ever said that I agreed with. He makes a lot of ridiculous pronouncements about the future of computing.

How come you know so much about cable and that you seem quite clever.


because i'm a friggin genius (2.60 / 10) (#2)
by Tex Bigballs on Sun Jan 28, 2007 at 04:21:49 PM EST

are u brand new to the site or something

[ Parent ]
So your geniusness imbues you with (2.50 / 2) (#3)
by apple on Sun Jan 28, 2007 at 04:28:28 PM EST

knowledge of all fields of human science? Remarkable!

I don't know I've never read an article by you really except about computer games.


[ Parent ]

No one will lose (Okay, some will lose) (2.28 / 7) (#4)
by debacle on Sun Jan 28, 2007 at 04:33:17 PM EST

The internet will create a pay-to-view (hopefully not a pay-per-view) medium where commercials are a thing of the past and shows like Lost never see the light of day.

Writing will become the focus of sitcoms again, over the hype machine that is daytime television.

I think that we will see live channels survive - news, sporting events, etc. I think it will be a while before any of the major sports outlets begin broadcasting on the internet.

Really, the only ones that will lose are the television industry, because they will no longer be able to rely on ad revenue that allows them to pay people millions of dollars per show.

To be honest, though, we haven't even seen what will happen when the Internet revolutionizes music. I don't think we can honestly say what the entertainment industry will look like in ten to fifteen years. I think we're passed the ideas of content protection - DRM doesn't work. The whole idea can't work. The 'industry' is probably now going to look at investment protection - how can they allow for limewire and bittorrent to exist and piracy to continue and still get their $$?

With the answer to that question, I think traditional cable TV will probably be a thing of the past, which means that the cable companies will no longer be heavily subsidizing their broadband services, which means prices will go up.

Shit, I've changed my mind three times already. I think the fact of the matter is we can't possibly be sure.

It tastes sweet.

My bet is on greed on stupidity (2.71 / 7) (#6)
by alba on Sun Jan 28, 2007 at 05:08:10 PM EST

Providers of entertainment will try to make more revenue by forcing pay-per-view, DRM and all types of obnoxious law money can buy.

Consumers will try to download entertainment for free, filter out advertisements but also will fall for the cheapest scams.

And inbetween are the gadget suppliers, trying to sell new technology to dumb customers while having to obey the rules of dumb content providers.

So I guess that it simply won't happen. In five years the majority of TV viewers will still do it old-style. Bill Gates was never good at predicting anything.

You're on the right line of thinking (2.33 / 3) (#19)
by debacle on Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 12:52:00 AM EST

But the wrong conclusion - it's the gadget people that will win out and rake in boatloads of cash, as always.

It tastes sweet.
[ Parent ]
The usual suspects are in pain (1.50 / 4) (#35)
by alba on Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 02:17:45 PM EST

The age of DVD saw the rise of Taiwan and continental China at the cost of Europe & Japan. The next cycle of start-from-scratch might cause the complete demise of Philips and Sony.

[ Parent ]
The big loser will be (1.57 / 7) (#7)
by Advanced Robotics on Sun Jan 28, 2007 at 05:43:58 PM EST

Microsoft. They have yet to figure out to completely control the Internet. They are very envious of what Apple has done with it and yet Microsoft has not gotten it. You only have to look at a few of their ventures beyond Office and their dominant OS.

This will not change any time soon, since MS is no longer an innovator of technology. As a result, the winners eventually will be the consumers.

hint (2.55 / 9) (#8)
by Tex Bigballs on Sun Jan 28, 2007 at 05:47:03 PM EST

your stupid non sequitur comment doesn't became any less so by using special text formatting

[ Parent ]
hint this story will dump (1.60 / 5) (#13)
by Advanced Robotics on Sun Jan 28, 2007 at 06:55:27 PM EST

L 0 5 E R

[ Parent ]
you said innovate, huh huh (1.50 / 2) (#21)
by oilmoat on Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 03:30:35 AM EST

I have IBPND. (I believe in people, not disorders.)
[ Parent ]
This is a good article Tex, (2.50 / 2) (#9)
by zenador on Sun Jan 28, 2007 at 05:47:14 PM EST

but your time spent writing this would have been better served writing a new installment of Crime Detective Story.

Um, anyway. I hate the way cable works too. I have basic cable + HBO, but only want to get HBO and not the rest of the crap. I can't do that apparently.

If HBO allowed me to download their shows a la carte, I would cancel my cable so fast.

the article sux (1.60 / 5) (#14)
by Advanced Robotics on Sun Jan 28, 2007 at 06:56:38 PM EST

[ Parent ]
There are alternatives (1.33 / 3) (#20)
by HackerCracker on Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 01:17:52 AM EST

For example, you could just D/L the shows a la carte using bittorrent and send HBO a check. Tell the cable company to take a flying leap.

[ Parent ]
I like the part about ... (none / 0) (#65)
by icastel on Wed Feb 07, 2007 at 12:40:05 PM EST

... sending HBO a check, but it seems to be missing the ";)"

-- I like my land flat --
[ Parent ]
DVDs (2.25 / 4) (#39)
by Eccles on Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 04:23:26 PM EST

Does HBO have any shows worth watching that don't come out on DVD at the end of the season?

[ Parent ]
I know this (1.50 / 1) (#49)
by zenador on Tue Jan 30, 2007 at 02:40:45 PM EST

For instance I have all the Curb Your Enthusiasm DVDs. But I don't want to have to buy the DVDs of shows I'll only ever want to watch once.

[ Parent ]
I rent them (2.50 / 1) (#53)
by thankyougustad on Tue Jan 30, 2007 at 09:01:38 PM EST

Rented Curb your enthusiasm. Rented Six Feet Under. They were both good.

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
Well... (1.00 / 2) (#57)
by Eccles on Wed Jan 31, 2007 at 03:23:16 PM EST

You could join trading groups like Peerflix.com. You could buy them from Amazon or an Amazon seller, and become one yourself and sell them back when done. There's also Netflix et al (possibly with the aid of Handbrake/DVDDecrypt/etc). My library also carries a number of DVDs.

[ Parent ]
on earthshattering (2.00 / 2) (#10)
by khallow on Sun Jan 28, 2007 at 06:02:19 PM EST

Bill Gates's prediction this weekend that the Internet will revolutionize television within the next five years was hardly anything earth-shattering.

He does make a lot of predictions. Slashdot talked about this one a lot. I suppose some ambitious slashdotter of which there are so many will eventually compile some sort of Bill Gates greatests hits.

Stating the obvious since 1969.

A la carte (2.50 / 4) (#11)
by sudogeek on Sun Jan 28, 2007 at 06:13:19 PM EST

Cable, DSL, broadband over power line, satellite, and whatever comes next  will continue to provide two services - continous feeds, like current TV, and on-demand downloads(= the internet).

As more programs are available from internet broadcasters/content providers, cable companies may flip their position and embrace a la carte distribution.  Many channels pay cable companies to be on basic cable (religious money grubbers and shopping channels, for example). Yet, I doubt many subscribers would voluntarily select these channels for their feed.  Thus, "cable TV" may become more expensive as these channels' subsidy to the carrier is lost.  

At the same time, internet content providers need access to the consumer and may need to pay cable or other providers for the use of the "last mile" - a big pipe to the home.  Accordingly, the economics here may favor internet service becoming cheaper  to the user <U>and</U> more profitable than the broadcast function.

You're an arrogant, condescending, ignorant dipshit. - trhurler

i don't know anything about BoPL (2.50 / 2) (#12)
by Tex Bigballs on Sun Jan 28, 2007 at 06:20:41 PM EST

but i see satellite being doomed as an internet or television distribution medium except perhaps out in the boonies

as for religious channels and home shopping channels. even if they do pay to be broadcast, i have to imagine that it's the proverbial drop in the bucket compared to how much money is currently in the industry

[ Parent ]

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz... (1.42 / 7) (#18)
by the spins on Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 12:45:39 AM EST

( )

I don't understand (1.25 / 4) (#22)
by MichaelCrawford on Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 03:38:55 AM EST

Tex wrote this, but it doesn't seem to be a troll. Are you getting soft in your old age, my friend?

Looking for some free songs?

I Predict (1.20 / 5) (#24)
by Gruntathon on Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 07:41:00 AM EST

Product placement is going to become more endemic.
If they hadn't been such quality beasts (despite being so young) it would have been a nightmare - good self-starting, capable hands are your finest friend. -- Anonymous CEO
The big losers will be: (2.75 / 8) (#26)
by daveybaby on Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 09:06:52 AM EST

Those of who dont want to use the internet for watching fucking television, because all of the bandwidth will be taken up with 20 million people all separately downloading the same fucking programme, instead of just watching it when its transmitted.

The most moronic use of bandwidth imaginable. How the fuck am i going to download my pr0n and warez now?

Having said that, i dont think TV will disappear as quickly as you think. If there arent any channels, how are people going to be told what to watch? You dont think they'll be able to figure out what they like on their own, do you?

The funniest thing here (2.42 / 7) (#28)
by ksandstr on Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 12:50:39 PM EST

Is that the bandwidth problem with something like this has been solved, in a technical sense, for well over a decade now. It's known as multicast, and it sucks up far far less bandwidth than doing fifty million unicast streams at a time.

But guess what? No router supports that. You heard it right -- the router manufacturers would rather that backbone operators bought more of their hardware to get less than linear increase in their carrying capacity, rather than supply something that would solve the actual problem. Ah, the efficiency of capitalism.

[ Parent ]

Whereas under socialism (1.00 / 3) (#56)
by Just this guy on Wed Jan 31, 2007 at 01:35:16 PM EST

all of our routers would fully support the ISO networking stack, including 3 separate multicast modes each tuned for a particular content type. At ISDN speeds.

[ Parent ]
Dunno, man (1.75 / 4) (#58)
by ksandstr on Thu Feb 01, 2007 at 12:34:02 AM EST

The Swedes seem quite happy with their government-paid 10-megabit intartubes. Inevitably, the /. capitalists will claim this as a win for teh marketz0rs with some after-the-fact, 20/20 hindsight reasoning even though they would likely decry such a model as commie mutant terrorism were it proposed anywhere else.

Also, it's curious that you should mention "ISDN speeds" and an example of a horrible 19-layered networking stack: if I'm not mistaken, telephone companies would operate their networks in just that manner, avoiding overcapacity like the plague. Many POTS operators indeed hung onto ISDN for their lives until finally giving in and offering ADSL at laughable 256kbits/s speeds. These examples quite smell like what you'd get with overzealous central planning (possibly because it is). However, wasn't the telephone network invented in the United States? Didn't the classic model of one big POTS operator owning the infrastructure and being the Good Father Up In The Sky come from the United States?

So I guess it would come down to the presence of central planning regardless of whether it was at the state or corporate level. The CCCP demonstrates that it's possible to have central planning in a nominally communist economic system, and AT&T demonstrates the same for a nominally capitalist system; is it then a stretch to claim that absence of central planning was compatible with a form of socialism? It certainly seems no stranger than AT&T is in the US.

[ Parent ]

bandwidth? (2.70 / 10) (#33)
by binford2k on Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 01:41:38 PM EST

So 20 million people are going to insist on insanely cheap and ridiculously high bandwidth and you are going to complain about it?

[ Parent ]
Lollerskates! (1.75 / 4) (#29)
by ksandstr on Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 12:52:47 PM EST

Yet another prediction that the interbutts are going to be turned from a bidirectional medium into (by whom, exactly?) "we speak, you listen". Seriously man, 1997 called, they'd like their "Server Push" back.

Gotta agree here (3.00 / 3) (#32)
by wiredog on Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 01:37:59 PM EST

I see pay-per-view and a la carte pricing working, but most people won't want to surf the net just to find the latest episode of CattleCar Galactica. Not when some broadcaster provides it at a set time that they can record.

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

[ Parent ]
Uh, I think you disagree (2.75 / 4) (#37)
by ksandstr on Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 02:37:50 PM EST

I was drawing a parallel between the conventional "here's the channel, you open it on a certain time and date or you don't" TV model and the idea of server push. Server push fell over and exploded becoming tiny little bits because it tried to turn the Inurnets into something it was not, i.e. a unidirectional medium.

Really, the thing where you surf the net to find something you want hasn't been a problem for me since the torrent sites started providing RSS feeds with a link to the metafile attached. If something new comes along that I want to see, I just twiddle a regular expression in a configuration file and boom, sometime later there's episodes in my "incoming" directory. I guess it'd be a user interface issue, with people who've grown up with TV or radio preferring the "channel + start time + end time" model, but I think we already know how quickly even a preference like this can change.

[ Parent ]

Does it pass the "Aunt Minnie" test? (2.50 / 2) (#38)
by wiredog on Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 03:35:20 PM EST

Is the interface issue. People, in general, don't want their TV to be interactive.

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

[ Parent ]
Fools? (1.20 / 5) (#36)
by United Fools on Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 02:31:27 PM EST

Damn, TV will be so complicated that we cannot just turn it on and watch. We will not be able to figure out how to get to the channels we want and we will lose access to TV!

We are united, we are fools, and we are America!
So, who else pays for Battlestar Galacitca? (1.50 / 2) (#40)
by nlscb on Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 04:56:16 PM EST

Yes, I admit - I do.

I do not want to pay for cable, but at the same time I want to encourage more quality shows like it (though, yes, it has gone down hill a bit lately - probably inevitable as they are forced to reveal more about the Cylons and make them less omnipotently fearful - I seem to remember the X-files suffering the same fate). So, I'm willing to cough up $2 on itunes per episode so that I can watch the show and know that I am providing it with what I think is well deserved revenue.

Broadcast is in big trouble when enough people realize just how much the bandwidth they get for free is worth.

Comment Search has returned - Like a beaten wife, I am pathetically grateful. - mr strange

$2 is too much... (none / 0) (#69)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Fri Feb 16, 2007 at 05:22:23 AM EST

For a shitty DRM download. I'd rather wait and pay $45 for the season, which works out to a little higher... at least I can play that on anything I like. I can even sell it later at a garage sale.

Til they come out on DVD, I've been stealing the things. They'll get their money back when I have a chance to buy season 3.

Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]

am I going mad (2.50 / 2) (#41)
by zenofchai on Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 07:50:46 PM EST

or have we had 3 decent FP stories in 4 days...
The K5 Interactive Political Compass SVG Graph
Both $ (1.66 / 3) (#44)
by Cro Magnon on Tue Jan 30, 2007 at 09:40:44 AM EST

Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
Bill Gates is an idiot (2.42 / 7) (#42)
by tetsuwan on Tue Jan 30, 2007 at 01:27:54 AM EST

He said (and I paraphrase)
The ultimate proof that TV sucks is things like the Olympic games and elections. You have to wait in front of the TV to get the results.

Way to totally miss the point. Live broadcasting is actually one of the few things that is hard to beat ordinary television. People want to watch sports and exciting news events as they happen. Heck, these events are the only that make me seek up friends with a TV to join them in watching.

A man that thinks that the entertainment value of sports, elections or prolonged news events lies in the results and not the excitement of not knowing the results should not make public statements. Idiot.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance

werd (2.50 / 2) (#50)
by phayd on Tue Jan 30, 2007 at 04:24:47 PM EST

And to attack BGates even further, it's jackassery Content Management that precludes results from being broadcast.  NBC wants people to watch the Olympics but 12 midnight isn't convenient so NOT ONLY do we not get to watch stuff live but we have to wait to hear about what happened live but was broadcast later BUT we can't timeshift our freakin selves.

fuck it

[ Parent ]

You've successfully mischaracterized his (1.66 / 3) (#51)
by I am teh Unsmart on Tue Jan 30, 2007 at 07:05:08 PM EST

statement. Bill Gates comment applies to the practice of television characters babbling when what you want to know about is X, and not wait for some person to talk about X. His point is that when broadcasting static content, the viewer has little control over what he sees, and that on-demand delivery such as is available via the Internet is more flexible.

So which of you is the idiot, again?

[ Parent ]

Uh... (2.00 / 2) (#62)
by John Mytton on Thu Feb 01, 2007 at 11:20:18 PM EST

The one without six billion?

[ Parent ]
Yeah, you did miss the point (1.50 / 2) (#55)
by godix on Tue Jan 30, 2007 at 11:28:11 PM EST

What he meant was that if you want, for example, to know how the metals panned out in the downhill skiing competition but the talking heads are yammering on about figure skating then TV gives you no choice but to wait for the talking heads to get around to what you want. Elections are similar. If you want to know who won the CA senate race but the news person is talking about the strategies used in the NY governor race then TV gives you no choice but to sit around wasting time till they get around to what you want. Just because you personally want to follow things doesn't mean that everyone does. Many people are quite content with just hearing "Bush won, republicans lost Congress" or "Bears won. 152-3" before they go on with their life.

- An egotist is someone who thinks they're almost as good as I am.
[ Parent ]
Here's who loses: (2.50 / 4) (#43)
by Entendre Entendre on Tue Jan 30, 2007 at 03:37:19 AM EST

People who live in neighborhoods that cannot be profitably rewired for high-speed data connections to their homes. People who can't pay the ISP costs, so they stick with basic cable (which gets increasingly worse as so much of the money flows away from it). People who live in areas where the homes are miles apart, where the cost of laying a new fiber would never be paid off at reasonable monthly rates. People who live in the poorer parts of town, where the cost of ripping up the streets to lay new cable is far higher than the amount they'd pay for cutting-edge TV service.

Expect the 'haves' to be watching video on demand one mouse click at a time, while the 'have-nots' watch ABCBSPENNetc just like old times.

People who have money will get more and more bandwidth over time. People who don't, or who live in parsely populated areas (i.e. most of the US, outside the major metro areas), are going to be stuck with dialup for a long time. DSL if they're very, very lucky.

Clearwire would like to blanket the planet without laying (last-mile) cable, but can they afford to do even that much? I think it's the next Iridium.

Reduce firearm violence: aim carefully.

Always other options (2.00 / 0) (#45)
by alt on Tue Jan 30, 2007 at 10:24:03 AM EST

It may be that cable will die as a result. I hope this means that more "free to air" satellite* is available for consumer viewing.

As it stands, there are a limited number of FTA stations available in English, but enough so that if I wanted to I wouldn't need to order cable. Between Over-the-Air and Free-to-Air, I can get about 20 channels. No specialties, unfortunately. But I would get the major networks. And probably spend less time in front of the TV.

* Free-to-Air is unencrypted satellite reception. Completely legal. In contrast with some definitions of "FTA" which really mean stealing for-pay content.

Perhaps one day the satellite/cable-cos will actually allow a la carte channel selection as a result.

[ Parent ]

i'm too lazy for television (2.20 / 5) (#46)
by wampswillion on Tue Jan 30, 2007 at 01:35:17 PM EST

seriously.  i'm too lazy to weed through the cable plans and the programming and the channels and offerings to pick out anything to watch.  

i remember once being at my brother in law's house and they had the digital satelite stuff and he told me "you can pick out whatever want to watch."  
i thought, "are ya kidding me?  i'm gonna settle in with my book and my glass of wine."  

wow thanks for sharing that enlightening tidbit (2.00 / 2) (#47)
by Tex Bigballs on Tue Jan 30, 2007 at 02:09:10 PM EST

[ Parent ]
well, it's just that (1.80 / 5) (#48)
by wampswillion on Tue Jan 30, 2007 at 02:19:07 PM EST

i don't so much look at what i say on here as entertainment for you guys as much as i consider it a chance to say whatever i feel like saying. so that's why i say uninteresting things.  they are just the things that pop into my head.

[ Parent ]
How'd you choose your book? (3.00 / 2) (#64)
by Happy Monkey on Mon Feb 05, 2007 at 02:14:27 PM EST

Or your wine?
Length 17, Width 3
[ Parent ]
Television is primarily crapola (2.66 / 3) (#52)
by fyngyrz on Tue Jan 30, 2007 at 07:46:26 PM EST

For me, the choice is, don't watch broadcast television, don't watch satellite, don't watch Internet video. You'd be amazed how much more time I have than the average bear to get other things done.

I honestly don't know how TV watchers can subject themselves to the mostly inane "shows", the uniformly superficial, biased, lowest-common-denominator newscasts, and the commercials that apparently presume your IQ is about 70. Unless, of course, your IQ is about 70, in which case, sorry. Really.

Personally, when I learn about that rare thing, an interesting broadcast, I put it on a list and buy the DVD if and when it comes out. Firefly, for instance, was of interest, and I truly enjoyed watching it commercial free and in widescreen format, not to mention without NTSC artifacts.

When I was a kid - in the 1950's - it seemed to my family (who were a bunch of SF writers) and myself that television had a lot of potential. Teaching, learning, the arts, eliminating national boundaries, that kind of thing. Today, I'd have to say that through clever marketing moves, skilled selection of scripts and strong commercial influences, television has, despite huge obstacles standing in its way — managed to completely avoid fulfilling any significant part of that potential. You have to admire such decades-long single-mindedness, even when its goal is moving the definition of "mediocre" downwards.

Blog, Photos.

yayaya i'm way ahead of this (2.00 / 1) (#54)
by the77x42 on Tue Jan 30, 2007 at 09:05:28 PM EST

I have a job that doesn't afford me the luxury of keeping a standardized timetable of TV shows that I watch weekly. When I watch TV, I usually fall asleep during commercials and miss my show. I also like to pause it, go to the gym, and come back an hour later.

I simply just buy the DVDs of the shows that interest me. Failing that, I can download the torrents, which are usually available an hour after the show has aired. I can fit a few episodes onto one DVD, then watch it on my TV. If I'm lazy, I just watch them on the computer. It's incredibly simple, and I don't see why anyone would pay $35/month just to watch two or three TV shows a week.

As for all this shit about the internet revolutionizing TV, it's already here, and I've been doing it for the last four seasons of Survivor.

"We're not here to educate. We're here to point and laugh." - creature
"You have some pretty stupid ideas." - indubitable ‮

ads (2.50 / 2) (#60)
by khyrane on Thu Feb 01, 2007 at 10:14:04 AM EST

Maybe the revolution will be the ability to move the mark for targetted advertising closer to the bulls-eye? It's not so much the delivery of targetted ads.. its more about what it will allow the networks to do and change the way they operate.

If I agree to submit to regular profiling, allow my loyalty card data to be included, income info, fill out profiling surveys etc... perhaps when I'm watching something in a timeslot for oldies, I'll still see ads directed at the extreme home brewing market.

I might even get a 15 minute 'intermission' infomercial halfway through a feature about Belgian brewery tours.

I provide and allow all this profiling in return for access to the content.. legally.. and at a subsidised cost.

They even get 'force feedback'... they can tell I watched a docu entitled "Homebrewing movement in America" and I get sent a few spamlets offering hop and grain supplies.

There's more to babble on about.. audience ratings driving the script for series etc...

It would allow the networks to do more of what they need to do.. sell to the market, collect more revenue from advertising and guide content development more accuratly based on the audience.

I'm not saying its a all a good thing btw.. it's just my interpretation of what Bill might be thinking about re a revolution in TV.

I also doubt receiving any real subsidy.

It's the content generation, stupid (1.66 / 3) (#61)
by vqp on Thu Feb 01, 2007 at 11:08:11 AM EST

The drastic change will occur in the content generation not in the consumers, it is happening now in the news and music industries.

The internet distribution of video contents will make it very easy to produce your own tv show at home. If you are good at it, in some subjective measure, you'll be a tv star without having to get laid with some executive. This will extend the "tiers" ad infinitum: the long tail of the bell curve will finally appear in the TV business(right now is being cut because of the cost of broadcasting).

happiness = d(Reality - Expectations) / dt

Why would I want to pay for anything at all? (2.50 / 2) (#63)
by alecsmare on Sun Feb 04, 2007 at 01:49:17 AM EST

I can just leech whatever I want from teh internet for free. I gave up on my cable subscription as soon as I discovered P2P over broadband some years ago. Shortly thereafter I pretty much stopped watching movies/shows anyway, because of all the porn.

A flash of light, a cloud of dust and ... what was the question?

I crown you "Imangineer" (none / 0) (#66)
by eSolutions on Fri Feb 09, 2007 at 08:44:10 PM EST

What will the world of tomorrow bring?
Will the children laugh, the people sing?
What will we do in tomorrow land?
And baby, babe, will you hold my hand? To-
Morr-ow, the
Sorr-ow, the
Lov-in' I'm feel-in' for you.

Flying away in our spaceship baby,
Climb on aboard and snuggle close:
Will we see planets and solar visions?
Will we discover each other the most? To-
Morr-ow, the
Sorr-ow, the
Lov-in' I'm feel-in' for YOOOU!

Losers and Winners (none / 1) (#67)
by wintread on Wed Feb 14, 2007 at 10:23:21 PM EST

The real losers will be the Networks and local channels which
show programs which are produced by someone else.  The process is called disintermediation.

Over the internet, a program producer will be able to create a program of any length, with full creative control and deliver it directly to viewers without commercials, etc.

This means that the creative community doesn't have to share the residual rights and revenues with CBS, NBC, etc.  All that a production company will need is someone to fund the production and a way to collect a subscriber or viewer fee.  

Apple, thru iTunes can do the distribution and fee collection function.  And production financing will become a new area of investment by the financial community.  

For instance, Jerry Bruckheimer won't have to peddle his latest TV series to a major network - he'll just seek funding from any number of people who are willing to bet on his success.

The investment will be purely financial, without censorship and other creative meddling ...

Companies, like HBO which finance productions will do just as well under internet distribution.  

The REAL winners will be the viewers.  The internet model means that niche programming will florish - free of the whims of network programmers.  No longer will a popular program be cancelled because it doesn't reflect the philosophy of the advertisers or it doesn't appeal to the "right demographic".

I predict that shows like "Star Trek" and "Dark Shadows" with cult followings will never again go out of production ...        

The real losers: (none / 0) (#68)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Fri Feb 16, 2007 at 05:19:09 AM EST


Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
it simply won't happen (none / 0) (#70)
by zhg on Wed Mar 21, 2007 at 08:55:30 PM EST

So I guess that it simply won't happen. In five years the majority of TV viewers will still do it old-style. Bill Gates was never good at predicting anything.

I'm quite surprised nobody mentioned Joost (none / 0) (#71)
by kingy on Sun Apr 22, 2007 at 01:11:54 AM EST

Seriously, that seems much more revolutionary to television than YouTube.

cable (none / 0) (#72)
by technowhiz89 on Mon Jun 11, 2007 at 02:46:49 PM EST

soon the world of cable television will be obsolete. It will be replaced with shows that will be tailored to each individual by something as simple as a scanning device when the consumer touches the remote or the controller and the technology will be motion activated as well

Who Will be the Big Losers When the Internet Revolutionizes Television? | 72 comments (62 topical, 10 editorial, 1 hidden)
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