I welcome our new broadband tv overlords

So, as I’ve pointed out ad infinitum, the world is changing at a fairly breakneck pace. Those of us who enjoy television (and work in the tv industry) are experiencing something akin to the Napsterization of the music industry in the late 90’s. Up to this point, though, all the technological (TiVo, iPod video, vlogging, bittorrent) and societal (timeshifting, placeshifting) changes have failed to change the economic model of television. No one (yet) has replaced the advertising dollars of broadcast and cable tv with a compelling, competing approach.

That fact may be changing very soon.

Take the following recent developments, for example:

  1. Vongo
  2. Starz brings movie rental to your desktop, along with just-out-of-theatre films and a full stream of their on-air feed. Subscription model, but also includes pay-per-view.

  3. More PMPs to compete with Apple’s iPod Video
  4. See the new Toshiba Gigabeat and LG FM30.

  5. TiVo embraces portability to your handheld device
  6. Folks can sign up for the new TiVo Desktop 2.3 Beta, which will convert your TiVo files into PSP and iPod video format, helping you take your TV anywhere.

  7. Comedy Central produces content exclusively for online
  8. Comedy Central Is Serious About Internet – LA Times
    I’m sure they’re selling ads solely against their broadband offerings, especially their originals. Smart.

  9. Google will expand Google Video and sell content soon
  10. Rumor is it’ll be CBS and NBA content, but Larry Page will soon define the exact scope tonight at CES. This is HUGE. The world’s biggest search engine (and traffic funneler) can point you to the video you want and sell/license/show it to you for free. If this doesn’t worry network executives and make viewers rapturous, we’re all asleep. And Google will be partnering with Intel on Viiv (see below).

    UPDATE: PVR Wire has details on the new Google video and Engadget has(had) live coverage of Larry Page’s CES Keynote. And here’s the official Google press release.

  11. Intel’s Viiv
  12. I’m not technical enough to understand all the specs, but suffice it say that the technology will help enable better content distribution over wifi and the internet. Why bother with a TV if you’ve already got a monitor. More at LinuxJournal.

  13. Microsoft
  14. They’ll be using Viiv, mentioned above, and they’re teaming with MTV to do Urge, a music discovery/reccommendation thingy, plus Vista will be all about media – tv, photos, music – in one machine that will sync nicely to those new PMPs, also mentioned above.

Now that I’ve blogged my laundry list, I think it’s clear that I think the future is headed off the boob tube/idiot box and onto the pc/mobile device. Or, if not, clearly on the internet to be distributed and enjoyed without concern for the end device. If that’s the case, shouldn’t we be trying to put our entertainment product where the people experience it: online? Whether they purchase it, rent/license it, or get it for free (with targetted ads) it just seems to make sense to embrace the future before advertisers and cable systems bolt away from repackagers (like my cable network employer) and towards a more direct path with viewers.

[Note: The views expressed on this blog are my own, and do not necessarily represent those of my employer]

May you live in interesting time, indeed.

UPDATE: Kevin Marks has more thoughts on the futre of TV and Humax offers a PMP for DirecTV folks. Fun!

UPDATE II: TV Squad and Ad Jab both comment on Google’s video move and speculate on the death of television as we know it.

UPDATE III: Obligatory link to NY Times article – Coming Soon to TV Land: The Internet, Actually – where John Markoff reads the same tea leaves I do.

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