Thursday, January 24, 2008

Internet Video Will Not Replace Television - Nor Shoud It Try

Mike Abundo writes in his Inside Online Video blog that: "[the] Writers’ Strike Will Turn 25.6% of TV Viewers to Online Video."

It is undoubtedly true that people are accessing alternate forms of entertainment in the absence of new material on broadcast television. But I believe there is greater insight to be gleaned from Dan Rayburn's take on the issue.

Rayburn writes in his Business of Online Video blog:

I have over 60 season passes in TiVo. Going through all of them yesterday,
more than 90% of the shows I watch are not available online anywhere. And the
ones that are, like content from CBS and NBC, do not show up right after they
are broadcast and typically take days if not longer to appear on the web. And in
the case of something like 60 Minutes, one story alone is chopped up into 10
different video segments on their website and encoded at a pretty low bitrate.
And sports, well forget that. No NFL games are available on-demand the next day
online and while the MLB games are, it requires a subscription.

At the end of the day, the internet is not a more efficient delivery system for broadcast television content so there is no real reason to think it will somehow supplant television. There are some narrow applications, like broadcasting local programming to ex-pats, where the incredibly small scale of the audience is better suited to streaming media, but television is very good at what it does.

As Rayburn notes, who would pay for the bandwidth necessary to replicate the quality and scalability of over the air national broadcasting?

However, streaming media is a measurably more efficient method of delivering corporate communications than teleconferences or desktop-sharing sessions with a telephone bridge that call themselves "webinars."

Whether for external communications like lead generation or internal communications like training, I believe the measurable cost-avoidance of streaming rich media instead of travel for a live meeting or the phone bill for a teleconference is the key to its future, not the writers' strike.

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