Internet video distribution today seems like the inevitable path media companies are going to take in order to ensure their content gets to consumers. But big media needs to figure out a way to operate (for at least the next five to seven years) with one foot firmly planted in today’s TV distribution platform, while incubating their Internet audiences.
Decades were spent getting the digital standard ready for prime time. During the process the industry communicated to vendors how to make digital television sets and how new transmission equipment needed to work. This expensive digital TV rebuild brought about a flurry of industry PR by networks on why cable companies should be paying more for HDTV content.
Broadcasters have also been trying to play catch up, and they want to see their compensation some day match the cable networks’ subscriber fees.
As the cablers (like Comcast and Cablevision) renew content agreements, they are also spending once again to rebuild their cable systems with next-generation transmission equipment like switched digital video and network DVR technologies. These rebuilds put pressure on the cablers to try to manage content costs. In addition, they are simultaneously trying fend off competitors, like Verizon’s FIOS, by increasing available HDTV channels and launching new services (like TV Caller ID).
Hence, as programmers try to find their own Internet audience, the cable guys want to keep the revenue behind their walled garden — or at least position themselves to share in some of the upside of Internet distribution.
Once the digital transition fog lifts and the industry looks at the current distribution eco-system, we might find that TV Everywhere and Hulu (to just name two) should technically be integrated with the digital spectrum and cable distribution. We, for instance, should probably be concentrating our efforts on how to combine the Internet and the digital television experience so consumers get content delivered through one seamless platform.
Cross platform technologies could satisfy everyone, including the consumer, while also building revenue streams that are integrated across both TV and the Internet. After all, wouldn’t you like to be able to click your TV remote control and move the TV show you are watching to the Internet without missing a punch line?