As an extension of my research on podcast listeners I have also been reflecting lately on Internet video and TV. While the delivery of content over the Internet has some key advantages, there are also advantages to TV that are hard to replicate online. The difference is really in the style of interaction. TV is essentially a passive medium. You sit down, turn it on and watch what it gives you. You have a choice of channels, and can time shift using video or “Tivo”, but what is available to you to watch is chosen by the channel.
By contrast Internet video is an active interaction. While you can automate the delivery of new content, you must actively search out and find the content you want to view. This gives two highly different styles of viewing, and gives a reason for both to exist. The problem with TV is that you need to interact with a passive medium to get the content you want when you want it. The problem with Internet Video is the effort that is required to find good content.
I can see a convergence between the two that could give TV a longer life though. At the moment TV networks get their money from ads or subscription. They use this money to buy the rights to broadcast particular shows. Unfortunately they also form a barrier between a shows producers and their audience (except in house production of course) and shows are continually looking for ways to better interact with their audiences. The daily shows new website is an example of this, and also the Battlestar Gallactica downloadable commentary podcasts.
I can see the possibility of a shift in the entire mix. Producers will look more to directly deliver their content to consumers and also sell advertising placements directly to interested companies. They still need to get their content discovered and TV could offer a way to do this. TV then becomes an advertising medium for a show to be discovered by potential viewers. The flow of money would shift with stations no longer paying for shows. A shows production company would instead pay stations to get their show aired for passive consumption in the hope it would lead to active consumers. It would be easy in the age of digital television to embed a subscription service, where a viewer can subscribe with the press of a button to a show they are watching that they would like to see more of.
The television stations would make some money from producers wanting to advertise their shows on the station, and supplement that with localised advertising. This would fill the other gap with Internet delivered content where they are unable at this time to deliver ads that are specific to a limited geography. If I watch TV I will see an ad for the local car yard, but how would they place an ad with an Internet delivered show that would be viewed all around the world? If I owned a TV network I would be trying to set up a station, or a least a time slot to try this business model out.