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Is "traditional" broadcasting and content delivery on the way out?

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Is "traditional" broadcasting and content delivery on the way out?

Old 12-23-10, 05:24 PM
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Is "traditional" broadcasting and content delivery on the way out?

How Will the Rise of 'Smart TVs' Affect Traditional Broadcasting?
ARTICLE DATE: 06.10.10
By Mark Hachman

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2364901,00.asp

(Spoilered for length)

Spoiler:
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The rise of connected, socially networked TVs may have an unforeseen consequence: how do you deal with an East Coast audience that discusses an episode that has not yet aired on the West Coast?

For now, it appears, you don't.

Anthony Soohoo, senior vice president of entertainment for CBS Interactive, was asked the question at the Connections conference hosted by Parks Associates in Santa Clara. But while he acknowledged that a single IP stream could be released at once, he indicated that CBS still believes in the "linear" model of TV programming.

For several years consumers have been able to watch streaming video online. But only recently have live streams, like YouTube's presentation of a U2 concert or various tech keynote addresses, been available online to the mass market.

But the emergence of DVRs, Web-connected devices like Boxee, and Google TV which executives referred to as "smart TV" also means that the time-shifting model is being tweaked. And there's no reason that a single IP stream couldn't be simultaneously provided to consumers across the nation, according to an audience member at the conference.

But Soohoo's response seemed to indicate that CBS is locked into the broadcast model. "The television has been and continues to be the premier entertainment device inside the home," Soohoo said. "Smart TV will usher in a new era of richness with the Internet."

With a show like CBS's "Big Bang Theory," the "show experience" includes the anticipation of the show, reacting (such as tweeting) during the show itself, then discussing the show online after its conclusion, Soohoo said.

But CBS has also acknowledged the need for a Web audience to interact with its properties. The second season of "Around the World for Free" will debut this summer, Soohoo said. It stars Jeff Schroeder, a "Big Brother" and "Amazing Race" alum, who will be asked to travel around the world without a penny in his pocket. Viewers will be asked to monitor Schroeder's journey online, guiding him on where he should go and what he should eat, Soohoo said. "It's a new and better way to tell a reality story, and we believe smart TV will enable it," he said.

"In fact, the show doesn't really work without active participation from the audience," Soohoo added.

Soohoo also suggested that it might make sense for a consumer to watch the video with others in his or her "social graph," the term for associated social networks, but whether that would also include live streaming across both coasts was unknown. Soohoo said that CBS had made available some clips of "Late Night with David Letterman" online that users could watch on-demand in a "cluster" of friends.

There are different types of content models, and there will still be a linear mode like broadcast, Soohoo sad. "After you've watched this piece of content, there would still be this other on-demand content," he said.

Wilfred Martis, the general manager for retail CE for Intel's Digital Home Group, also warned that the clock was ticking for OEMs and content providers to get on board with the smart-TV initiative.

"When the right technology reaches the market, things move fast," Martis said.

Parks Associates estimates that 30.9 million video-centric connected TVs will be sold this year, rising to 131 million in 2014. Currently, the winners continue to be Internet-connected game consoles, with an estimated 44.4 million sold in 2010. But that could decline to 22.2 million units in 2014 as connected Blu-ray players grow from 10.1 million units this year to 89.6 million units in 2014.

Martis pointed out that Blu-ray overtook HD-DVD in 15 months, which he said should be an incentive for CE manufacturers in the audience to get moving. "If you want to be a player in the smart TV space, you probably have less than 18 months to develop and implement a smart TV strategy," he said.

"[Smart TV] is the biggest innovation since color entered the [TV] picture, or at least since my favorite show, 'Seinfeld,' went off the air," Martis added.

Intel announced Wednesday that Eric Kim, the senior vice president and general manager of the Digital Home Group that Martis works in, was leaving to join Soraa, a clean-tech company.


I really starting thinking about this after participating in the "DirecTV vs. Dish" thread. There are some HD channels available on Dish but not Direct, and vice-versa. So we're left with compromising on our content, and then having to rent from Netflix or other sources to see what we want to see how we want to see it.

Right now we are all limited by what broadcast media content providers (cable, satellite, etc.) are providing to us. We are further limited by what broadcast providers are available to us in our particular region of the country that we live in.

With the increasing sales of Smart TV's, Roku, AppleTV, PS3 and other streaming media boxes that people are snapping up, do you think media content creators and providers will skip the middle man (Cable, Satellite, etc.) and offer their content not only "on demand" but also in a type of "live broadband stream" to customers with the above devices? Networks could still retain the traditional "linear" model of programming in that they can set a particular time for "premiere" episodes of a television series to 8:00PM Eastern Time on Thursdays, or whatever, by providing a live HD stream to consumers with such devices.

Granted, it would be difficult to conceive of no more "flipping channels" when watching television, but it could be a way for networks to get income directly for subscribing to their HD stream to your home, and you could truly have an "a-la-carte" choice of programming that you want, when you want it, wherever you are in the world, so long as you have a broadband connection that can support it.

I'm just wondering if this is what eventually is bound to happen as Smart TV's and Smart Boxes become more and more popular, and steadily cheaper, over the next several years?

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