The Death of TV (as we know it)

What is TV? Or rather, what is watching TV? One thing for certain is that TV– while it is still a media, is no longer a medium. I watch all of my TV on the Internet; in Korea, many people watch TV through DMB service or satellite service on their cell phones. (DMB is like network TV for mobile devices while satellite is like cable for mobile devices) Videogame consoles like Xbox360 now include TV-like functions.

Now that more homes are being hooked up with broadband in the U.S. and connection speeds are getting faster, American media companies are just starting to accept the fact that TV isn’t what it used to be. It is somewhat amusing that network companies had to compete with YouTube in the first place because their content was not available online. The success of Hulu over YouTube really has me rolling my eyes, because duh, if the entire content is available on Hulu, why would you want to watch 10-min. clips on YouTube? Obviously, American media companies didn’t even bother to look at case studies of other countries that already had their online businesses up and running several years ago.

I feel restless about why ABC, FOX, CBS and other guys are using the business models they are currently operating. Basically, all of the networks use the same strategy: only recent episodes are available online and the episodes are sprinkled with 15-second ads. ABC has an annoying thing where you have to “click to continue” after each of those ads. (That click feature doesn’t help my memory of the particular ad, so I don’t see the point)

It’s great that there is all this free content, but I don’t understand why they don’t have a parallel paid service, where entire episodes (not just the recent ones) are available for a small price (maybe a dollar an episode; $.50 for sitcoms) with no ads. I know you’re thinking that it costs just as much as a DVD, but the matter of the fact is that sometimes, you don’t want to get an entire DVD; sometimes you want to watch things out of the blue and would not watch it if it were not available immediately. It also helps to have a free/paid mix because you may watch a free episode and decide to watch the entire season (which is what happened to me with the Sarah Conner Chronicles and Fringe). By selling content directly to the end user, they can cut out middleman costs, control copyright, know more about their audience, and create a loyal fanbase. I find myself watching more of Fox and ABC over NBC not just because of the shows, but because I find the interface and video-watching more accessible (and the streaming is better). For instance, I would never have watched Pushing Daisies if I hadn’t already been on the ABC site for Eli Stone. (To be continued…)

I also think ISPs are stupid for not have gotten into IPTV earlier. hanaTV, for instance, is sort of like TiVo and has a huge movie database- only it’s run by an ISP. Of course, for streaming to work, bandwidth would have to be high, and the US, being the big country it is, may have to decide whether or not government should support connection in rural areas. My friend, for instance, lives in a place where the only Internet service she can get is through satellite, and because the connection is so bad, she usually gets up at 4 in the morning to check her email!

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