Disintermediating TV

Another terrific Media Report program this week covering BitTorrent technology; the file sharing program that improves the speed of video downloads. Mark Pesce sees program producers using the internet to disintermediate broadcasters. He suggests this is imminent but I think not. When you can make $5M an episode selling into network TV, why would you piss them off by selling the same content on the internet? Competing with your buyers has never been a good career move.

I can see producer-to-consumer happening directly with adult content (anything too controversial or racy for TV), niche content and young filmmakers’ content before it really goes mainstream. A lot of this will be content shorter than 30 minute programs. Bandwidth is still too expensive for long episodes and sitting in front of a computer screen for long periods is still a bit geeky. OK; guilty as charged.

I think Mark correctly concludes that live sport is TV’s strong suit. Funny that competition could push TV back to live content, where it all started. He also talks about the need for free-to-air stations to develop more interactive content; well that’s already happening.

The other thing that’s clear is that the networks would be well advised to follow Kerry Stokes’ advice and use their digital bandwidth for more channels instead of higher quality. The internet’s strength is going to be in diversity of content. If the networks were to encourage new content on these stations they would undermine the internet’s main competitive advantage.

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