Web TV Take over

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Chinwag Live produced another thought provoking debate on Web TV the other week.

The panel included speakers from Channel 4’s 4OD, Brightcove, TapeitoftheInternet, Broadsight and Digital TX

Some little nuggets I pulled out from the debate are below

Everyone is trying to work out how they are going to make money out of IP(Internet protocol) TV . The Telcos think its going to be in subscriptions, distributors focus on advertisers and there are many different models emerging.

Distributors like Channel 4’s 4OD believe that experiementation is key, it’s not clear which models are going to prevail but Cosmo Lush has a few pointers. 4OD launched in Nov 2006 with a pay per view model moved to free ad supported content it offered a 7 day catch up service and now offers a month’s worth. Paid for models are hard to launch as newspaper sites have seen. Paid TV is a successful business but that has been harder to translate onto online as people are used to getting that content for free. So traditional broadcasters are having to experiement with how they “retail” their digital content. With successful shows like Skins, Channel 4 do think there is an appetite for people to collect content in a range of digital formats which seems like the best way to ensure success, MAKE great content and you can sell it.

Paul Pod from TapeitofftheInternet ( my favourite name of a company at the moment) talked about how content makers are by passing the traditional distributors. People can now get the content they want on the device they want changing the relationship that people have with content. For any business like TIOTI its clear that advertising and revenue shares are going to be important.

Raghav Gupta from Brightcove sees that the way to compete is to offer free services with a premium step up, as the value shifts from owning to distributing content Raj believes that the blended content distribution is the way forward. Maybe you release content on your website first ahead of other streams and then distrubute it across IPTV, YouTube and other channels as you go. This makes sense to me to find different ways to distribute your content to ensure you can reach an ever fragmenting audience in ways that suit them.

The big question is how much will the model migrate to he Internet away from traditional broadcast and how will the models change. An interesting example is the contrast between JJ Abrahams, Lost series which pulled in 20 million viewers – lots of eyeballs for the advertisers vs his new show which reportedly will make just as much profit based on a smaller number of subscribers.

Alex Cameron of Digital TX offered some lively points of view throughout the night. He talked about traffic shaping- which is when users might get kicked off the Internet if they are detected downloading for P2P sites. P2P ( peer to peer file sharing) is a big problem for the ISPs ( Internet Service Providers) Alex Cameron’s point is what happens if the 4 main ISPs who control 93% of the internet access decide to pull the plug on P2P sites that are effectively getting a free ride distributing their content and ISPs picking up the bill for the bandwidth to deliver it. I love the idea that they may all be in a secret bunker somewhere talking about turning bits of the Internet off and going into partnerships with the “bonafide” content providers BBC, 4OD etc and sacking the rest.

Also worth checking out Project Kangaroo – if you wanted any proof that traditional broadcasters are having to take this web TV thing seriously then this might be it. Its effectively suggesting that broadcasters and other players pool their resources to have one point of entry for the viewer where they can get everything.

Alan Patrick from Broadsight, who is very good on the subject of different models offered mentioned Metcalfe’s law which states that a the more people that connect to a service the more useful it is.

I like the idea that in the end consumers will decide and although we think we have more control now , it’s clear that the control still lies with the companies that are in the business of making money. It seems however that how they do that is an ongoing question.

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