Web TV

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Gone are the days of tuning into my television on Monday nights at 8 P.M. to catch an episode of House or Gossip Girl. If I want to watch a television show and can't be stationary in front of a TV set, I can just wait to catch the show online, whether it's through the network's website or sites like hulu.com. Not only does the Internet benefit a viewer when it comes to watching television shows, but the Internet has become a native medium for TV producers who can't successfully air their programs on television channels. Cell phones, computers, iPods, and other types of electronic devices are starting to expand a digital network of television media and free access. I certainly don't have to pay for cable if I want to watch episodes of The Colbert Report on Comedy Central or The Secret Life of the American Teenager on ABC Family.

Internet distribution definitely impacts the control network companies have over their shows. The current network model is affected because channels like NBC, Fox, CBS and ABC, along with their parent companies, can't control what when and by what medium their viewers recieve content. Internet distribution challenges the control network companies have because once a viewer is in cyberspace, they can view shows and related content whenever they want. People can watch TV in a taxi cab, on college campuses, or even while waiting at the dentist's office without even looking straight at a television screen! An independent producer who could not sign a sufficient contract with a network or was let off a network due to low ratings, can take their episodic series online. They can try to sign a contract with hulu.com, provide their shows through YouTube for free, or open up their own .com website and stream the videos for free to viewers. Of course, going the Internet route may not come with the advantage of making higher profits off of advertising and providing a higher chance that the series would go into syndication on other TV networks.

Here is a video on television moving to the Internet:

Fox channel provides some of their content, such as Glee and House on hulu.com Comedy Central used to provide The Colbert Report and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on hulu.com before ending their contract to provide the shows on the host's websites. Viewers can search for South Park online and eventually be led to southparkstudios.com. ABC Family provides The Secret Life of the American Teenager on hulu.com the week after new episodes air. More information on television on the Internet can be found here.
In The Television Will Be Revolutionized by Amanda Lotz, the topic of web-integrated TV existing in the Internet space is discussed. Convenience technologies - including the DVR, VOD, DVD, the Internet, and mobile applications such as phones and iPods -  enabled viewers to more easily seek out specific content and view it in individualized patterns (Lotz 59). With so many options available, her description of the "5 C's of the Post-Network Era" are applicable to the scenario of how viewers obtain TV from an Internet signal rather than the traditional TV signal. These are choice, control, convenience, customization, and community.

Choice: Viewers always had the choice of flipping through channels and choosing what show they wanted to watch on what network. Now users can choose which medium to obtain content from and when they want to watch it. They can choose who their provider is, whether it's a cable provider or the Internet.

Control: Viewers can control whether they want to watch what's available on the TV, the Internet, or simply create their own shows and participate as a producer. People can control their access on TiVo's, on-demand features, and visit websites like hulu.com.

Convenience: Watch TV at home, on the road, at the doctor's office on your iPhone, in the library on your laptop... the choices are endless and there is added convenience. Using a DVR or TiVo to record your shows to watch later, coming home late and missing House but being able to access it later on the Internet, are just a few examples of how people much more convenience.

Customization: Now we don't have to sit in front of a TV box and become mere receptors to what is provided for us. If we are dissatisfied, we can search for shows on the TV guide list on the television or just go online. We can watch in normal features, high definition, or possibly 3-D in the future.

Community: People always had the choice to discuss their television shows when they'd see their friends and family after the episode was over. Now people can watch shows together live and discuss it in the comments sections, on social networking sites, or blog about it.

Here is a video on satellite direct offering viewers TV viewing options outside of the traditional offers of watching on a television box set:
All these changes that are impacting network television should not be a surprise to people. The Internet has been impacting all kinds of media, including radio and print. Television is adapating to the Internet's revolutionary changes by providing media content online. As discussed in Stelter's New York Times article which can be found here, larger audiences online are being attracted to the Super Bowl and Olympics at higher numbers because they were watching and surfing the web at the same time. People preferred to watch msot of their media content online. Watching media content and chatting online with other people at the same seemed to be what most people preferred. This water-cooler effect, Stelter describes in his article, are what makes some of these normally TV broadcast shows more attractive to people.

This relates to the Long Tail because now people can access much more media on an unlimited shelf space. This is a democratizing tool as well because now ordinary citizens can upload videos, start webshows, and have much more content available for viewing online when they couldn't afford high-priced cable packages before. This also relates to Creative Commons because people still own the rights to their media content and can use the non-profit organization's licensing options to protect their content.

I highly believe that television in ten years will be streamed more frequently on  web and that cable will be like the Internet. More information can be found here. I think my family's Comcast subscription features will allow for web surfing on the television and viewing your bank statement while watching an episode of CSI. Comcast, AT&T and other companies may provide cable packages for iPhones, computers, and even for cell phones. Companies will try to compete for viewer's attention and if they stop, I think the web and viewers will gain too much control and the companies will therefore make less money.

Works Cited:
All Images Obtained Via Creative Commons:

All Videos Obtained Via Creative Commons blip.tv.
Sources and Links:
"Cable TV Is Doomed." The Atlantic, 18 03 2010. Web. 17 Apr 2010. http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2010/03/cable-tv-is-doomed/37675/>.

Lieberman, David. "Could This Finally Be the Season For Web TV?." Money. USA Today , n.d. Web. 17 Apr 2010. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/11/garden/11tv.html?scp=14&sq=web%20television&st=cse

Lotz, Amanda. The Television Will Be Revolutionized. New York City: New York University Press, 2007. Print.

Quenqua, Douglas. "Turning to the Internet to Catch a Favorite TV Show ." Home and Garden . The New York Times , 10 03 2010. Web. 17 Apr 2010. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/11/garden/11tv.html?scp=14&sq=web%20television&st=cse>.

Stelter, Brian. "Water-Cooler Effect: Internet Can Be TV." The New York Times , 23 02 2010. Web. 17 Apr 2010. http://community.nytimes.com/comments/www.nytimes.com/2010/02/24/business/media/24cooler.html

Stelter, Brian. "Successes and Some Growing Pains at Hulu." Technology . The New York Times , 31 03 2010. Web. 16 April 2010. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/01/technology/01hulu.html?scp=5&sq=internet+television&st=nyt>.


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