New York Times writer, Clive Barnes, once wrote, “Television is the first truly democratic culture — the first culture available to everyone and entirely governed by what the people want. The most terrifying thing is what people do want.” Hard to believe this was written on Dec. 30, 1968. It seems things haven’t changed much in 40 years. The Internet has provided us reasons to celebrate and reasons to cringe at what it has created. We now want that experience on our TV for the whole family to experience.
So why are we so hungry to put the Internet (a square peg) into television (a round hole)?
Many websites now offer what the content you traditionally would find on television, long-form video with commercials, but will this content on our PCs remove us from sitting in front of the television? I know some folks who no longer own a TV and now only watch shows on their computer. Thanks to sites like Hulu and many others we don’t need a television.
Television is an old term now. The large screen that you have in your living room may still be classified as a television but is it? It is basically a large screen that allows for an awesome viewing experience alone or with friends or family. It is just a screen but when connected to devices such as cable, digital cable, satellite, gaming consoles, Apple TV, TiVo, Microsoft’s MediaRoom, you now have the capability to play games, view on-demand movies, play music, program shows, order pizza, view YouTube videos, etc. Maybe we need to throw out the term television because it doesn’t apply anymore.
With all these devices, what is holding us back from having a true Internet experience through this screen if all we need is an Internet connection? Besides bandwidth issues and security concerns there is a basic business aspect that may be getting overlooked.
Anthony Smith-Chaigneau, senior vice president of business development and managing director of Alticast Gmbh, explains to Tracy Swedlow, editor-in-chief of InteractiveTV Today in a recent podcast. “We have tried putting Internet on television numerous amounts of times. Everybody is looking for quality of service on the Internet and most people are delivering video, they are not thinking of interactive.
“The world is your oyster with this technology, we just have to have a good cohesive business plan. But what we see in the market place today is: show me the money. We keep getting asked if we can put twitter on TV. We can put twitter on TV, not a problem, in fact it is quite simple but what is the business side of it and who-pays-who to make it happen?
“How do we bring a really cohesive clever set of applications that people really want when everybody is satisfied that they’re all getting their fair share of the revenue slice, which is ultimately what this is all about?”
The public interest is certainly there and the technology is catching up or already exists in some respects. We need to figure out the business side and realize there is tremendous value to companies, advertisers and individuals who take the first steps into this space. Some early adopters such as Unilever and Ford Motor Company already know the power interactive television has to offer. The “television” was a powerful medium since it began and is now poised to reinvent itself and take on a new identity, new name and new opportunities catering to an audience with an insatiable hunger for all things digital.
David Baron is an independent consultant and interactive project manager with experience launching successful projects in online, mobile, gaming and interactive television. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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