The Death of Television is greatly exaggerated (in this case by Michael Arrington).
Michael suggest that it’s just a matter of time before more TV is watched on the Internet than on traditional broadcast/cable methods. And he is (almost) right – because I think he missed the real “tipping point”.
The real tipping point will be when I don’t have to care where the programming is coming from — how it is delivered is no longer important to me. If I can use the remote I grew up with and sit in the recliner watching the big screen, and get my TV over the Internet – without having to “mess with anything” – that’s the tipping point. When I just don’t have to think about how to get what I am used to getting now.
When I don’t have to worry about if my Media PC is powered on or not, or if someone else is using my Slingbox, AND my Internet connection is as reliable as a cable TV signal – then you’ll see mass adoption. But guess what? Your traditional distributions channels (broadcast, cable companies, etc) will still be providing most of the content. So you aren’t trading for free TV.
None of us really want free TV – because that would basically be watching YouTube quality video made by complete amateurs using all sorts of different codecs, screen resolutions, etc. It would be a mess – and YouTube looks like crap on my 42 inch Plasma display.
It’ll take a lot – a whole lot for Arrington’s vision to come true:
- A LOT more bandwidth coming into the home
- A much more reliable distribution method – not just of video, but of Internet Access in general, We might tolerate the cable modem going down now and then, but people get really pissed if they can’t watch TV.
- Some consensus with all the major content providers and distributors as to profit sharing (good luck with that one)
- The ability to watch whatever we want, in near real-time – on demand. That takes a LOT of bandwidth. Read some of Mark Cuban’s past blog posts on video distribution if you want details.
- Overcoming human nature. ER and Friends came on TV on Thursdays. We are creatures of habit – audiences are built through this repetition – removing it will actually reduce your audience (sure, some of us like time-shifting – many do not)
Don’t get me wrong – I despise my current TV provider (Time-Warner). They aren’t customer focused (or I would be able to at least buy programming I want, like FOX in HD, ESPN2 in HD, the NFL channel, etc). I also despise my current Internet provider (Time-Warner) because the service just doesn’t work reliably enough. Certainly not as reliably as my cable TV works.
Internet delivered content is certainly going to continue to grow and grow – both in the amount of content, and the quality and availability of content. But it won’t replace my regular TV feed until these concerns are addressed – and they are not simple problems. Each of them crosses many industries – industries that won’t easily take their fingers out of the financial pie.