Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Everyone's on the Web TV train, but no one knows where it's going

Just back from Chinwag's Web TV Takeover event, which explored emerging business models and the likely winners and losers in the internet TV melée.

It's a bit beyond the scope of this blog as I really only deal with user-participation stuff, but it's still a fascinating area, not least because no one seems to know yet what's going to work and what isn't.

The television industry (which includes traditional broadcasters and new entrants from the Web 2.0 world) is currently in an era of 'massive experimentation', according to one presenter panellist Alan Patrick of Broadsight. No one is yet sure how people will watch TV in future, whether they'll be prepared to pay to view or download episodes, how long an ad should be (indications are that future 'TV' ads will be no more than ten seconds long, and probably less than five), or even whether the whole nascent IPTV market will end up being strangled at birth by ISPs refusing to bankroll the bandwidth needed for massive file downloads and online video streaming.

(This last debate almost caused a fight to break out in the audience, which was quite exciting.)

For those of us who grew up with four super-powerful terrestrial TV channels acting as a sort of cultural superglue holding the country together, watching those same broadcasters floundering and panicking is a disconcerting experience.

There's no indication that the floundering and panicking will subside any day soon, either. Asked if there was any reason why Channel 4 viewers should pay to download episodes of Peep Show from 4OD, its video on demand service, when they could get them (illegally) for free from BitTorrent, 4OD's Head of Product Development Cosmo Lush simply replied 'no reason'.

The panel also featured Paul Pod, co-founder of a soon-to-launch aggregator called Tape It Off The Internet (TIOTI). TIOTI will aggregate broadcast content from wherever it's available on the internet - legally or illicitly - giving Web users a single place to search for TV programme downloads.

With sites like TIOTI on the horizon, combined with the undeniable 'flight to the internet' on the part of former broadcast advertisers, the likes of C4 and ITV will have even more to keep them awake at night.

UPDATE: More perspectives on last night's discussions available from:

paidContent: Video ad demand burgeons but C4 expects prices to fall
paidContent: P2P TV Net neutrality: are we heading for war?
Eaon Pritchard: The revolution will be televised
Rags Gupta: Wag the Chin: Web TV panel in London


Tim Footman said...

Cosmo Lush?

Paul Pod?

Are you sure you didn't accidentally gatecrash the AGM of the National Association of Minor Dickens Characters?

Fiona Blamey said...

I did think at one point that the speakers might have been using their Second Life avatar names.

You'd make a good Dickens character. 'Tim Footman' is very evocative, although maybe you'd prefer to be in a Hardy novel.

alan patrick said...


'twas me who said it was massive experimentation - to explain, I have put up the Broadsight Web TV bizniss Selecta on our blogsite, here on Broadstuff

Fiona Blamey said...

Thanks Alan, have updated post accordingly. (I didn't have my glasses on last night, so couldn't always see who was saying what!)