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Last post Author Topic: I'm ready for the TV revolution to hit!  (Read 8848 times)

superboyac

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I'm ready for the TV revolution to hit!
« on: August 18, 2010, 05:24:55 PM »
I know, this is yet another thread where I start to think about something for the first time even though it's already a hot topic among the people in the know.  Oh well...

I am officially ready for the TV revolution to take place.  We are still using an antiquated system shoehorned with a few modern touches (DVR, Digital TV, etc.).  The TV industry is holding on for dear life to their old ways.  They want us to pay monthly for all TV-specific services, when TV is nothing more than another feed that could (should, IMO) come through the regular internet connection.  Once again, I really want ISP service to be independent from all the other monthly services I pay for (TV, telephone, gas, electricity, etc.).  All I want is a data connection to the grid based on the bandwidth I require.  After that, I'll choose the other services independently knowing that I have the connection taken care of.  That is really the best way for the future.  I'm not even saying the company providing these services have to be different.  It can all be Verizon, but I want the services clearly distinct.  I know, I know...they already do that.  But wait, there's more.

So, now that the fundamental ISP service is taken care, let's start thinking about TV.  We can now get anything that is information (i.e. not electricity or gas) into our homes.  So, a cable TV connection or digital TV connection is not really another "connection".  It's just some information coming through my existing connection.  Since that is established, let's go ahead and change the way TV is watched.  Why should TV still be on a set schedule?  DVR's are already very common, what's the point of a TV schedule?  Why not have a system where we just decide to get whatever show we want whenever we want?  Instead of saying, "I'm going to record Seinfeld at 7:30pm on channel 13", why not just say, "I want episode 3 of season 5 of Seinfeld right now to save and watch later"?  I mean, isn't that really where we're trying to go?

The infrastructure and everything is already in place for this.  it's not like its a new technology that we have to wait for to become commonplace.  Ah!  But the TV industry will lose just about ALL of their existing moneymaking procedures that are in place.  The schedule forces you to watch the commercials (assuming it's live).  Even if you DVR, they don't let you skip the commercials.  They did initially, but there was a fuss, and now you can just skip using the FF button, which is totally lame.  Also, it would force people to get out of the habit of just surfing to see what's on.  For example, when I'm at someone's house and bored, I'll just flip through channels until I find something.  That's NOT how I like to watch, but that's how a very large majority watch TV.  Again, it's old school.  It's time to move on.

Next...channels?  Really?  What's the point.  i don't give a shit about this channel or that channel.  The TV access providers should just let you pick either the shows you want or the categories you want.  They can charge per viewing, or some kind of monthly package.  Ideally, they should offer as many flexible packages as possible.  I would gladly (read-->GLADLY) pay $50-100 monthly to have this kind of access to the shows and movies I want.

This is the only way to really compete with piracy, also.  The companies can come up with half-solutions like [technology restricted] DVR's, but don't let that fool you...the pirate experience is MUCH nicer.  I can go on my computer, find a torrent of some episode, have it downloaded in 10-15 minutes, and watch it right away...no commercials, no fussing around with menus and FF buttons, etc.  Bam...immediate satisfaction.  So what I described is the ONLY way for companies to offer a equivalent experience.  And again, money is not the issue...I have a fine job, I would be very eager to pay for that kind of service.  At least Netflix kind of got it right in a lot of ways.  Once they have more things available for streaming, that's going to be a huge deal and more towards what I'm talking about.

What really got me thinking about this today was Arrested Development.  I finally started watching this show, and it's brilliant.  one of the best shows I've ever seen.  A lot of people think so also.  So why was it canceled?  It's not certain, but most of what I've heard points to faulty or ineffective marketing.  Nobody really knew what the show was about.  So it got canceled due to poor ratings.  On the other hand, it was very highly critically acclaimed by both the public AND the industry.  That's weird.  But if the TV industry operated the way I described, it wouldn't matter, and the show would still be on.  The reason why it failed is because it had to meet the expectations of a "prime time" slot, and it didn't, so they had to pull it even though it was good and everyone knew it.

Prime time is useless.  Everyone should just be able to watch whenever they feel like it.  If I'm free at 7:42pm and I want to watch something, why should I wait until 8pm?  And then, why should I be limited to just whatever is available at 8pm?  Even though DVR has taken care of that, again, there's SO much more that can be done.  We're ready, the infrastructure is ready, it's all ready to go.

And then, we would see a lot more shows like Arrested Development being made.  Why?  because it wouldn't such a big risk to do it.  If they don't have prime time expectations, that means we can have MORE shows being made without the show having so much pressure to succeed.  There will be more creativity, more good quality shows, heck, even more bad quality shows.

So, I'm ready, how about you?
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You have come to fight as free men, and free men you are. What would you do without freedom? Will you fight?

OK, back to work...
« Last Edit: August 18, 2010, 05:28:43 PM by superboyac »

Renegade

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Re: I'm ready for the TV revolution to hit!
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2010, 05:31:05 PM »
Amen Brother~!

I hear you!

However, I don't see it happening soon, or soon enough.

The networks, studios, and affiliates have too much invested in the way things are. Giving people a way around them just isn't going to happen.

And then there are the international licensing agreements...

Nightmare.
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Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

superboyac

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Re: I'm ready for the TV revolution to hit!
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2010, 05:38:39 PM »
Er...one more point:

What the heck is the deal with the excruciatingly slow channel changing speed with ALL digital services?  Really, what the F--K??!!  I hate it, I can't stand it, it makes me want to break something.  Now, I don't know exactly why (technically speaking) it's like that, but I'm pretty sure of one thing: they do it intentionally.  For some reason, the companies do NOT want us to be flipping around very quickly.  I don't know why, but I'm certain it has to do with money somehow.  Same reason why we don't see very many good replays during an NBA game.  The NBA (David Stern) absolutely does NOT want people seeing replays for every little questionable play.  So, instead, they fill the screen up with useless statistics and "special" commentaries during dead balls that could be used to show replays of what just happened.  Which is really what the people want to see.  i don't give two shits about how many games the Lakers have won Andrew Bynum gets over 12 rebounds...SHOW ME THE REPLAY THAT JUST HAPPENED!!

Arrgghhh!!!

superboyac

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Re: I'm ready for the TV revolution to hit!
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2010, 05:46:53 PM »
Amen Brother~!
I hear you!
However, I don't see it happening soon, or soon enough.
The networks, studios, and affiliates have too much invested in the way things are. Giving people a way around them just isn't going to happen.
And then there are the international licensing agreements...
Nightmare.
Yup...well, let me tell them what they SHOULD be doing:

1) start taking this stuff seriously.  Get all the agreements and licensing going.  But don't just go through the motions like Adobe and Apple.  Recognize that this WILL happen, and the first one of the major corps that does it is going to be the big leader.  So do whatever you gotta do and get it going.  Cross your t's and dot your i's and let's roll it out.  But they don't do that because they are comfy with whatever they have and it's a risk they are not willing to take.  Also, they are paranoid about all that copyright stuff.  You gotta do what youtube did which is intentionally allow the copyright infringements to get it going, and once you're big, then deal with the restrictions like they are doing now.  I can't upload any clips because they will immediately be fingerprinted.  They could've done that years ago, but they didn't.  because they KNEW they wouldn't get big doing that.

2) If you are NOT going to take this seriously, do NOT bitch about piracy.  I don't want to hear about it.  I'm not defending the illegal activity...I'm just saying I don't want to hear about it.  I'm TELLING you how to effectively deal with piracy.  If you don't want to do it, you are saying you would rather have the situation we have now, than to actually solve the problem.  So I'm done with you.  They throw the people a little bone like DVR and think that's it.  Sorry.  The pirates are WAY ahead of you.  Reminds me of how the porn industry is always the leader in revolutionizing media content distribution (VHS vs. beta).

MilesAhead

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Re: I'm ready for the TV revolution to hit!
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2010, 08:23:23 PM »
It's my understanding the long pause when you click to the next channel is to save bandwidth.  With HD they can't have all the signals going all the time like they did in the old days. When you stop on a channel I think it sends a request upstream that channel be sent back to you.

I'm not up on all the particulars but it's likely unless you have like 100 Mb/sec or higher internet service in your neighborhood, then the fiber probably only goes up to some junction station/router whatever they call that box everyone on the street is hooked to, and from there to your house is just the old copper cable.



« Last Edit: August 18, 2010, 08:33:58 PM by MilesAhead »

zridling

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Re: I'm ready for the TV revolution to hit!
« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2010, 08:50:35 PM »
Don't expect it to happen. I've long bitched about having to buy 200 channels when I only ever watch and tape shows from five. The reason? Same as it always is: MONEY. Google proved to be a sellout on net neutrality and that really game-changing Nexus One idea, and it's already doing the same for its TV proposal of merging the net and broadcast channels. If providers can only charge you for the channels you actually watch, then they couldn't shove 9 channels of ESPN and 41 channels of religious programming down your throat.

Like everything else consumers want, the most powerful forces in the universe are aligned to prevent you from getting near it. Even if you do find someone on your side for a while, Google will sell you out (or whomever).

superboyac

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Re: I'm ready for the TV revolution to hit!
« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2010, 09:19:04 PM »
Yeah, Z, it's probably the case.  i'm very curious how much longer these business models of theirs are going to last.  I really feel like there is a big opportunity for some big company to say F it and go forward with something like this.  But maybe I'mjust being naive and optimistic.  That's sure dying fast, however...

FYI, I'm not sure how secret it is, but I've gotten wind through my professional connections that Google has tried to enter into some kind of agreement in the Los Angeles area to provide fiber optic services to residential areas.  That is, to piggy back on the existing FO grid to provide Fiber connections to customers.  I would LOVE that because I'm really jealous of my sister and others who have FIOS.  But we'll see.  With all their net neutrality things happening, it's looking dim that something big like that would happen.

Miles, thanks for the channel changing explanation, that makes sense.  My question now is, why don't they fix it to be faster?  It's really really slow, to the point where it's not really tolerable for channel surfing.  You can't surf anymore.  You really cant.  The best you can do is go to the menu or guide place and browse there.  But then you don't see the actual video, so it's not as good.  I'm sure that if they really wanted to make that faster, they could have by now. It's been years, and I know they're holding back on the bandwidth on purpose.  Either people aren't complaining enough (which is likely, I've never heard anyone bitch about it to me) and/or the companies are just ignoring it until someone makes a beef about it.

JavaJones

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Re: I'm ready for the TV revolution to hit!
« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2010, 01:55:02 AM »
I'm totally with you man! A la carte programming is the way of the future, Arrested Development is an awesome show, and channel changing speeds are ridiculous now (not sure about that bandwidth explanation).

Here's something interesting to consider (someone who knows better please correct me if I'm wrong :D): With Cable TV, as I understand it, the entire channel lineup is currently "blasted" to every customer constantly, using x amount of bandwidth you could theoretically be using for something else. The amount of bandwidth used doesn't change based on what channel you're watching or anything - it's just all sent to you all the time, and your cable box sorts out the rest.

Now the difference is they can use something like multicast because everyone is basically getting the same thing, and then their cable box determines what they are actually entitled to see. So you couldn't just switch to 100% on-demand and suddenly have 10x more bandwidth for arbitrary downloads. Because the TV data (which *is* mostly data at this point, since the digital conversion) originates at the cable provider, it's not data they need to pay for or have fat pipes to other providers to transmit. So it's much cheaper. But even so, sacrifices are made to fit so many channels in, including much higher compression than would be ideal, and other issues.

One likely concern on the part of cable providers, aside from the loss of their bundling deals and other things, is that it would increase upstream (cable provider side) system load to have to handle a lot more dynamic streaming, with theoretically everyone watching something different at the same time. After all, even if someone is watching the same show as someone else, they're highly unlikely to have *started* it at the same time. But it's still all coming from their servers (theoretically), so it has the same in-network bandwidth and cost benefits. Ultimately the technology hurdles should be easily overcome. After all YouTube probably serves up the equivalent of your average local cable provider's simultaneous viewership in at least 720P at any given moment, so obviously the bandwidth and processing power requirements are manageable.

Where it gets more interesting is that now that you've freed up all this *in network* bandwidth, you can suddenly massively increase quality without any real penalty. Since your cable connection is no longer being fed 100Mbit/s (literally) of 500 channels of garbage, the one channel or show you do choose to watch should be able to be streamed to you at 1080P with full DTS surround sound, and even 3D if you want, and all that with minimal (say 30mbit/s) compression, blu-ray equivalent. That's an *upgrade* to the service, and one they should be able to crow about to in their marketing all day long.

Another concern however, and one which I have no answer for (nor do I want one) is the loss of revenue for less popular networks. These networks are basically subsidized now under the current scheme of bundling them in with channels people actually want. They then get a cut of revenue when, for the most part, it's other channels people are actually interested in. The end result for these "fringe" networks of such a move to on-demand would be either death, or dramatic reduction of services. But hey, I'm fine with that! If people don't want their content, they shouldn't be in business. That's how business works, right? Or at least how it should. Shocking that things don't actually work that way now - far from it. For the cable companies this should not be a big concern as far as I can tell, their costs may even go down. It's just certain content providers who might not be so happy. See here for more info:
http://en.wikipedia....ed_States#A_la_carte

Now you say that cable companies should be *more* concerned at that point about people watching less commercials since they're not "forced" to by the cable system itself. But actually it's the opposite, which you demonstrate yourself when you discuss modern DVRs and whatnot. In fact on-demand TV could easily include bundled, forced ads that you *can't* skip. You don't even necessarily need to provide (or allow) DVRs anymore if everything is on-demand, because why record something when you can just watch it any time you want anyway? Or, at least from the cable company's perspective, why *let* anyone record anything? Not to mention that DRM and control of copying content in general is going to be theoretically much higher with a well-implemented on-demand system. And believe it or not I would be happier to pay for a service with mandated ads and stricter DRM *but that allowed me to watching anything I want, any time, all the time*, than to have what we have now, with DVRs, commercial skipping, and the rest. It's that worthwhile to me to watch what I want, when I want, and not have to deal with limited on-demand or Netflix selection.

So actually if you look at it all that way, far from it being a scary and uncertain thing for the TV providers, I think it makes a whole lot *more* sense, both for customer and for the service provider to go all on-demand. It's just the existing network bundling systems and the way the industry works as a whole that's preventing it. Common sense says that profit should not suffer for the cable companies (it's all about choosing a good pricing model, which cable companies are well experienced at), and customer satisfaction will go up in this scheme. Working out billing for pay-out of watches for specific shows owned by a given downstream provider might be a bit of a headache, but surely the TV provider could work out an overall deal for unlimited (or x number of) streams at a given price and then mediate that with their customers.

You're also right that this kind of setup would be the best way to fight piracy, and that the piracy experience is *currently* a lot better than almost anything else out there (aside Netflix, if you ignore the limited selection issue).

Switching gears for a moment, I agree that Arrested Development is a fantastic show and it's a shame that ratings, or *whatever* (not even sure it was "ratings"), killed it. Here's the interesting thing about "ratings". If you look at Arrested Development's popularity and respect level now, it's off the charts. 9.7/10 on the IMDB with over 40,000 votes. That's unheard of. House, one of the most popular shows on TV, has a 9.3 with 443 votes! Modern Family, a newer popular show (and also a comedy like Arrested Development), 9.1/10 with 9000 votes. Two and a Half Men, a long-running and popular comedy (why, god, why?) is 8.7/10 with only 238 votes. Neither South Park nor The Office nor even The Simpsons beats Arrested Development for total score with a high number of reivews. On Amazon, Arrested Development Season 1 has a solid 5 star rating, with 987 total customer reviews, of which 926 are 5 stars. Again, unheard of. On Amazon this is better than any season of The Office, Family Guy, South Park, Seinfeld, etc. In fact, as far as I can tell it is the single most highly rated comedy show on Amazon at this point. Now what do I draw from this data? That in determining the "ratings" of Arrested Development while it was still on, *they asked the wrong damn people*. People *love* this show. So why was it canceled? And did anyone's head roll because of it?

Now think about this: like it or not, in a system where everything is on-demand, "ratings" become a thing of the past, or at least the traditional system we now use to generate them. "Representative households" are a ridiculous thing in this day and age when you *could* be recording what *every single TV* was *actually* watching at any given moment! And with a system like that, I find it hard to believe Arrested Development would have suffered the same fate. The way it is now, none of the actual customers have any direct communication with the programming directors, so they rely on "ratings" and other mostly indirect metrics to make these major decisions about whether to keep a show or not. Sometimes "ratings" are even twisted (because, after all, it's far from an exact science, certainly not "hard" numbers) to fit the whims or personal prejudices of a given programming directory or other executive. Frankly I'd be ok with the cable company knowing what I'm watching at any given moment if it meant that great shows like Arrested Development would stay on the air longer due to my contribution to "ratings" by viewing it.

Another interesting thought on that is the possibility of actually having properly adult (and by that I don't mean porn!) shows, where people can swear, nudity can be shown, etc., but not having to get a premium channel like Showtime or HBO to have access. I grant that these kinds of shows have seen a surge in popularity since these formerly movie-focused networks have started putting them out, and that's great. But there are still places they won't go, and their focus is IMHO still largely juvenile (in the sense of maturity, e.g. T&A rather than adult themes). I'd love to see something more like European (including UK) TV often creates. And that would be a lot more possible with an all on-demand system, since you could more easily enforce who had access to watching what, and would not be tied to the confines of the "average audience" of a particular channel or network, necessarily. At the very least if someone wanted to create a show outside the networks to have more creative freedom, they could/should still be able to get it into the content distribution system (let's say the cable company has a service where they can directly publish small shows, for example).

So in the end customers benefit, company benefits, and (most) content producers (or at least the good ones) should also benefit. I don't see a lot of lose here. Just dinosaurian business models slow to change, as is always the case.

Imagine if the RIAA, instead of spending millions per year on legal fees just to earn a few 10s of 1000s of dollars in settlements, and alienating a large portion of their customer base in the process, had instead embraced the digital age and created a music store with all it's member artists and record companies signed on, charging profitable but reasonable prices. Apple is a *middle man*, they bring *ZERO* unique value to the table that the RIAA and/or record labels themselves could not have created if they simply took that leap. Take out a middle man and you can lower prices. The RIAA's theoretical music store could comfortably sell tracks at 75 or 80 cents per and still make the same money for them and their member artists (Apple's cut is rumored to be about 20 cents per track). Not to mention more music availability with everyone and their mother signed on, lots of opportunity for direct interaction with artists, easier arrangement of special pricing, etc. Now the RIAA is greedy, it would never have worked that way, but it *could* have, and we'd all be better off than we are now, including the RIAA...

Think, evolve, thrive. Why are these not the tenets of every major business?

Sorry about the extreme length of this response. :D The short version is: I think it actually makes perfect business sense to go this route for TV. So it's frustrating that, despite all the talk of "the free market" and the virtues of capitalism, in the end there is actually a lot more inertia involved due to old, entrenched businesses, monopolies, etc. than any free-market capitalist would like to admit. I wish the system worked the way they think it does (or think it would if "unregulated").

- Oshyan

superboyac

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Re: I'm ready for the TV revolution to hit!
« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2010, 08:59:19 AM »
Thanks Oshyan!  That is an epic post, and well said!
I, too, believe that it makes sense for everyone.  The technology available is amazing, and it should be used in a way that is both profitable for the companies and enjoyable for the customers.  As my friends says, the companies shouldn't treat their customers with disdain, which is often what is happening.

You're totally right, ratings are a silly thing nowadays.  The whole idea of how many people are watching a scheduled show is outdated.  To comment more on that, I'd have to understand how it all works better, but I agree with pretty much everything you said about that.  Everyone DVR's these days anyway, so what difference do time slots and ratings make anyway?  I can see how that can ruin stories if some people watch a popular show before someone else and tells them about it.  But, actually, the show can be 'released" at a specific time (Thursday at 8pm), but all that means is that's when it first becomes available.  That's like having a schedule, but still keeping in line with the a la carte revolution.

You're also right about it being a win-win situation.  i think so too.  But it would take a leader who has a strong vision, capable staff, and a deep understanding of the industry to know what to do.

superboyac

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Re: I'm ready for the TV revolution to hit!
« Reply #9 on: August 19, 2010, 12:43:08 PM »
An article about this:
http://www.wired.com.../ts_burningquestion/

I do disagree with this statement:
Quote
But it would take a total market shift to inspire consumers to actually cut their cables, a market shift as significant as, say, iTunes. Not surprisingly, that’s just what many industry sages are forecasting.
Don't blame this on the consumers.  This all has to do with the corporations.  Sure, most consumers don't care and don't know about what is going on, but don't think they wouldn't welcome the change.  They would LOVE it.  Once they experienced it, they would never go back.  And the big companies know that.

app103

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Re: I'm ready for the TV revolution to hit!
« Reply #10 on: August 19, 2010, 12:53:48 PM »
I think you are either forgetting something or are unaware of it...the purpose of television programming.

You assume it exists to inform and/or entertain you. Not quite true. The programs exist to draw you in and control you by keeping you seated so they can show you advertisements. Advertising is the purpose of TV. If the networks could show nothing but advertising 24/7 and make as much money, they would. But you wouldn't sit and watch, so they have to trick you somehow to get you to comply with their wishes, which is why there are programs that you enjoy. It's how they keep you seated for the commercials and how they keep you coming back for more ads.

And while you may believe you are paying a bill to view those networks, you are actually paying for the delivery service provided by your cable, phone, or dish company and not the actual stations they are delivering to you (unless it is a pay network like HBO or Showtime, which are an additional fee)

They do not want you to be in control of the viewing experience. That would mean less profits for them. The rates they charge advertisers are based on the popularity of the programs, the time slot in which they are shown, and the length of the advertising slot in which it will be inserted.

The only time you are allowed to have control over your viewing experience is when you are willing to pay extra for it. And the more control you want, the more you can expect to pay, if they decide to give you what you want.

Think about it...

Why would any network pay so much money for the production of any program, or the right to air a program, if they were not making so much more from the advertising shown during that program? You are just a set of ad watching eyeballs to them. Nothing more.

superboyac

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Re: I'm ready for the TV revolution to hit!
« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2010, 01:10:42 PM »
I think app nailed it.  You said it better than I could have.

And that's sad for the consumers.  It's sad to me to know that this great technology is available, yet we are stuck with a crappy user experience.  I watch Mad Men also, and sometimes I wonder about what the future holds for advertising.  The typical advertising models seem antiquated to me also.  Commercials, movie previews, even ads on the internet.  How effective are they to the end user?  i wonder sometimes.  I know it's bringing loads of money to everyone, but is it actually accomplishing the true intent of advertising?  Are a lot of people discovering the products they need through formal advertising these days?  I wonder.

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Re: I'm ready for the TV revolution to hit!
« Reply #12 on: August 19, 2010, 01:31:05 PM »
Yepper App nailed it.

You are just a set of ad watching eyeballs to them. Nothing more.
I just got this mental picture of the Geico mascot bleeding its money bundle into a TV set and then vanishing.

zridling

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Re: I'm ready for the TV revolution to hit!
« Reply #13 on: August 19, 2010, 06:33:28 PM »
Yea, App's insight on how the program content is merely there to interrupt the ads is true to my experience. Long ago, Howard Stern would do 38-40 minutes of his show each hour and then take a 20-minute ad break. It was great radio, because you could stay and listen to the wacky ads or you could flip the station for a determined time.

But as ads continue their creep into everything, I'm reminded how prescient the movie Idiocracy (2006) really was. They're even running onscreen YouTube popup ads in between plays during the St. Louis Rams preseason football game last week. It was maddening. And if I listen to a baseball radio broadcast, the announcer is busy trying to read an ad in between pitches. These instances alone confirm App's insight.

JavaJones

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Re: I'm ready for the TV revolution to hit!
« Reply #14 on: August 20, 2010, 01:51:02 AM »
I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with App, and I explained why in my original post above, but I'll respond more pointedly here.

I have no illusions about the purpose of TV and the payments we make to gain access. Advertising is king, no doubt about it. Which is exactly why on-demand TV *with a properly integrated ad model* makes tons more sense than the current system. Why? Because people already skip ads with DVRs, switch channels during commercial breaks, or simply mute the commercials. The advertising system is already compromised to some degree. Far from further compromising it, an on-demand system could actually strengthen it and improve its effectiveness, which is a win for everyone since ineffective advertising is a waste of everyone's time (consumer, service provider, and advertiser alike).

The answer is, in my mind, fairly simple. With on-demand you could easily have mandatory-to-watch interspersed ads, no skipping possible. People can (or at least should be able to) still mute, but that's about it. In fact this approach is already in wide (and increasing) use, including on big sites like YouTube (only for videos setup to use ads), and many others. Given the fact that the ads are almost impossible to skip, already you can see the on-demand system being potentially more useful for selling ads and being demonstrably less "compromised" than the current system.

But it doesn't stop there, it only gets better. Think about the disconnect between someone watching a commercial for a given product and the time it takes them to A: find out more info or B: go buy the thing. With a properly Internet-enabled TV watching experience, the distance between a customer and a product purchase can get a lot smaller. Someone wants to find out more about Colgate Toothpaste? All they do is click a button on their remote during the ad and it opens a site full of info, formatted for viewing on a TV, and with convenient buy links. Their show? It's automatically paused, ready to continue playing when they're done fulfilling the advertising's fundamental point of existence. This is far better than traditional TV advertising and it's easily realized.

The system could even record a history of the advertising they've been shown, allowing them to reference recent advertising for more info. I know I've had several times where I've actually been interested in a product or ad but been unable to remember exact details and would have really appreciated a feature like that: "Yeah, it was a commercial for a new digital camera last night when I was watching my favorite show. It had great features, I just don't remember the model number or manufacturer..."

Another important benefit comes from better targeting of ads. As a service/content provider you would have an advertising content store, just like your main content store. Because nothing is on a strict schedule anymore, not only can you serve up whatever ads you want, of any length (theoretically - within reasonable limits of customer's tolerance), but you can also show specific ads to each individual customer. Those ads can be based on your knowledge of their TV watching habits, or their "click" habits on previous advertisements, or any other info that you gather through your new, more intelligent "set top box". You could even let customers vote up or down ads or ad types as they watch.

You can also give customers choices like having more frequent but shorter ad breaks vs. less frequent and longer breaks. Or even let customers choose what kind of advertising they get, based on their actual self-selected interests. There are many additional possibilities too like interactive ads, or even live contextual ads overlaid on content (like YouTube ads).

All of this makes advertising *more* effective and serves the primary purpose of TV far better than the current system, as far as I can see. The only issue that stands out in my mind is working out a different pricing model for ad time/space. But it shouldn't be that complicated as many of the current approaches still work. You don't have "time slots", but you do have shows that are more or less popular, which of course deserve correspondingly more or less compensation for associated ad time. So not much different than now. I think that issue could be easily resolved.

I don't claim to be an expert on any of this and I would be happy to know more about how everything works behind the scenes and hear alternative viewpoints and approaches. But for now I still see this is a pretty big win-win(-win) for everyone. There are some big business process adjustments to make, and some technology foundations to lay, but ultimately these are not huge obstacles for an industry that successfully took over from broadcast programming, laid millions of miles of cable across the US, and makes billions and billions of dollars every year. Put simply, it is really just in their best interest to do this IMO.

- Oshyan

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Re: I'm ready for the TV revolution to hit!
« Reply #15 on: August 20, 2010, 02:29:24 AM »
But as ads continue their creep into everything, I'm reminded how prescient the movie Idiocracy (2006) really was. They're even running onscreen YouTube popup ads in between plays during the St. Louis Rams preseason football game last week. It was maddening. And if I listen to a baseball radio broadcast, the announcer is busy trying to read an ad in between pitches. These instances alone confirm App's insight.

Let's not even get into what they are doing to our children's minds.

Ok, let's get into it (I can't resist).

Once upon a time the cartoon came first and the merchandising came later. It was an afterthought to capitalize on the things kids liked. (things like Bugs Bunny and Flintstone vitamins come to mind)

Then somewhere back in the 80's someone had this "stroke of genius" and decided to create programming to sell specific products. It was the first "infomercials" and our children were the target audience. The toy came first and was followed with a crappy low budget cartoon designed to make kids want it, and interrupted with more ads to sell even more junk. I think my first exposure to this exploitative type of advertising (that I can remember) was with Transformers, Maple Town, and Strawberry Shortcake.

And it has become much worse since then. They keep doing it because it works. Make a kid want something and they will relentlessly pester their parents till they get it. And the parents give in. Maybe not all the time, but enough to make it the most effective form of advertising there is.

And it's all to sell pure junk. The best toys don't have cartoons for them. There are no cartoons for Legos! It doesn't need one to make it sell!

@JavaJones:

If that turns out to be the future of television, I might just start watching again.

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Re: I'm ready for the TV revolution to hit!
« Reply #16 on: August 20, 2010, 02:53:26 AM »
App, me too! The thing is, it seems to be good for almost everyone involved (though there are always "growing pains"). So are industry inertia and entrenched business models really the only reasons we're not getting things this way now or in the near future? Or are there other problems I'm overlooking?

Taking what happened with iTunes and the music industry as a whole for an example, it really seems like it's as simple as lack of willingness to evolve on the part of the big existing media conglomerates. Likely they will just hold on to "what works" long after it's actually working well, and they'll try to legislate and sue (as the RIAA has) to maintain that. Instead they could be, er, evolving, improving, innovating!

- Oshyan

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Re: I'm ready for the TV revolution to hit!
« Reply #17 on: August 22, 2010, 09:36:47 PM »
Interesting thread.

I was [kinda] here when television first started ... parents bought one, a thirteen-inch, round, green-and-white screen console in the early fifties ... so I've watched TV advertising just about from day one.  The progression has, at times, been very awkward, and it has - as with most marketing - been very slow to evolve.  It has almost always been a decade or so behind technology, and likely will always be so.  The Mad Men almost always trail behind for security reasons - new technology may not be secure enough for their ads to make money ;D.

As to ad-created programs, the cartoons don't hold a patch - late to the fray :o.  Saturday morning had a not-to-be-missed (in the US) program called the Sealtest Circus.  It was a televised depiction of a three-ring circus aimed at selling Sealtest milk.  Yes, it was entertaining, at least to me at that age, but its sole purpose was to sell Sealtest - not just milk, but Sealtest milk.
Then there was the Jon Gnagy (sp?) Learn to Draw program.  It did teach drawing, but it was nothing more than a thirty (30) minute infomercial (the first one?) to sell his drawing instruction kits.
And Jack LaLane's exercise program - also an infomercial.
And don't forget Wonder Bread - builds strong bodies twelve (12) ways.  Think the parent company was Rainbo - but I still remember their mantra, their slogan, and likely I'll never forget it.
Those were innovators in a new technology - but their innovation was considered chancy at the time.

As to the online TV thing, there's a problem there that no one seems to care to address - the providers, I mean.  Last stats I saw gave 40% to 60% of the US Internet users as still on dial-up.  That's not conducive to a wide-spread structure of TV, ad-supported or not.  Then there are other countries.  Some of 'em have a better Internet structure than the US, but many of 'em have no Internet structure at all.  The marketing folk are going to stick with established technologies - radio & TV, almost universally available - until this newer technology has been proven through time.

You have all presented well-thought-out arguments in regard to on-demand TV and the marketing force(s)) behind it.  But don't expect to see significant adoption for another decade or two (2).  Despite the Mad Men scenarios, most marketers are a conservative lot - they'll adopt only after someone else has proven a viable construct.

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Re: I'm ready for the TV revolution to hit!
« Reply #18 on: August 25, 2010, 07:13:08 PM »
barney, I don't like your points, but they are sound.  I don't want to agree with what you are saying, but I can't disagree either.  Good stuff.  Yes, I always catch myself doing the "back in the old days" thing only to find out that back in the old days wasn't so much different than today.  There are significant differences, of course.  But so often with business and finance and capitalism...etc...we keep seeing that the root intentions of it all were no different.  Thanks for the input.  it's sad, but such is life sometimes.

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Re: I'm ready for the TV revolution to hit!
« Reply #19 on: August 25, 2010, 08:18:40 PM »
Quote
Thanks for the input. it's sad, but such is life sometimes.

I'd offer you a shoulder to cry on :'(, but it's pretty soggy - been using it myself  :o.

Y'know, it strikes me there's an opportunity here for some up-and-coming entrepreneur/infopreneur.  'Twould take mucho dinero to set up the infrastructure, negotiate syndication rights, and so on, but it's doable - look at YouTube - right now.  Might only have a small market, but considering the activity on the Internet right now, that could still make for a pretty lucrative system.  It would be a membership/subscription service.  Payments could be set monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, annually, or even pay-per-view.  If the payments were set fairly low, y'could prolly attract enough subscribers to make it worthwhile.  You'd need the backing of a financial angel with deep pockets and patience enough to wait three (3) to seven (7) years for a return

Prolly have to accept advertising for some of the syndication - which would create a cottage industry of developers building ad blockers specific to that purpose, methinks  ;D - but you could also throw in some ads of your own  :up:.

Reason I mention this is that I mentioned the thread to an angel I know - don't use him, but we talk, and he's Web/tech savvy - and he thought it a worthwhile concept for contemplation.  'Course, you'd have to show a business plan (that I would hate to have to draw up), along with some reasonable projections of growth.  Likely take a year or more just to set up the syndications, but if you could show, say CBS, that you could provide them a return, based upon usage, for stuff they're essentially giving away now ... that could get interesting.  It could provide them with a new revenue stream, and it would be in their interests to promote it.  However, they wouldn't be responsible for it, so all they'd incur would be the promotion costs, if any.

Now, those were ideas from the angel, and we discussed, ephemerally, some of the downsides as well, but he was overall receptive to the concept.  He seems to think it'll start happening sooner rather than later, particularly if tablets, e.g., the iPad, start to take off.

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Re: I'm ready for the TV revolution to hit!
« Reply #20 on: August 26, 2010, 10:51:57 PM »
I saw a glimmer of hope...

I had some work come across my desk that included some corporate strategy information on Smart TV, and it gave me a glimmer of hope that all may not be lost. We'll see though.

If there is any salvation, it will come from Smart TV, I believe. The Internet is too software-based, and everyone is scared of software because it lets anyone do anything. Hardware can be controlled much easier, and as such, is less scary.
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Re: I'm ready for the TV revolution to hit!
« Reply #21 on: August 26, 2010, 11:27:35 PM »
I'm kinda dubious about a hardware resolution (save, perhaps, for hardware allowing a new delivery method).  That is what currently exists, and any hardware solution to this would be naught more than an extension of existing broadcast technology.

True innovation - and Smart TV may be such, I don't know - is going to be software technology related, whether a new application or a new delivery method or, mayhap, a new display method.  But it's going to have to take into consideration existing technology trends - laptops, desktops, tablets, smart phones - as well as make some effort toward predictions of technology to come (imagine a tablet laying on a table - or your lap - with a holographic display transmitted above it, for instance). 

I suspect there'll always be a place for a flat-panel home television, but if the TV folk are going to advance, they're going to have to concentrate on software and delivery thereunto.  Yeah, a Star-Trek-like holodeck in your living room would be nice, but I want to catch that same holographic effect on my laptop for the noon news break, perhaps for the State of the Union address.  Oh, yeah ... I'd like to have that without eye fatigue or damage that some of the current 3D efforts are predicted to provide  ;D.

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Re: I'm ready for the TV revolution to hit!
« Reply #22 on: August 26, 2010, 11:58:22 PM »
I'm kinda dubious about a hardware resolution (save, perhaps, for hardware allowing a new delivery method).  That is what currently exists, and any hardware solution to this would be naught more than an extension of existing broadcast technology.

True innovation - and Smart TV may be such, I don't know - is going to be software technology related, whether a new application or a new delivery method or, mayhap, a new display method.  But it's going to have to take into consideration existing technology trends - laptops, desktops, tablets, smart phones - as well as make some effort toward predictions of technology to come (imagine a tablet laying on a table - or your lap - with a holographic display transmitted above it, for instance). 

I suspect there'll always be a place for a flat-panel home television, but if the TV folk are going to advance, they're going to have to concentrate on software and delivery thereunto.  Yeah, a Star-Trek-like holodeck in your living room would be nice, but I want to catch that same holographic effect on my laptop for the noon news break, perhaps for the State of the Union address.  Oh, yeah ... I'd like to have that without eye fatigue or damage that some of the current 3D efforts are predicted to provide  ;D.

Agreed. Like I said... A "glimmer" of hope...

But check this. It's a start. Albeit a pathetic start given what I'm sure most people here would like to see. Still... a glimmer...
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Re: I'm ready for the TV revolution to hit!
« Reply #23 on: August 29, 2010, 03:08:50 PM »
It would be nice but I am not sure it will happen - and ironically I am not sure it would be good if it did (at least in the UK).

The big question that hasn't been asked is who will pay to make the content if it is just distributed on demand via ISPs? If it is on a 'pay-per-view' basis then two things will happen - all digital content will quickly shift to torrent sites (even more than they do now) and if you follow the rules TV will become MUCH more expensive to watch.

The problem is that advertisers don't like pay per view and without advertisers commercial channels can't survive (without them watching would be come prohibitively expensive).

The other major problem is that a huge proportion of the population doesn't have adequate broadband to actually do this - and if broadband was upgraded to the point where everyone did have sufficient bandwidth there would be insufficent overall bandwidth for the population (unless technology changes radically).

Actually I think it would be an interesting experiment to have TV companies stop broadcasting and have ondemand paid services. Two outcomes would be likely (IMHO): consumers realise that 99% of TV production is utter tosh and not worth paying for and there would be a renaissance as people discover there are more things to life than watching TV. Alternatively I would be extremely depressed to see mass rioting breaking out because the opposite happened!

Try reading "The Machine Stops" by Saki !

barney

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Re: I'm ready for the TV revolution to hit!
« Reply #24 on: August 29, 2010, 04:12:47 PM »
Quote
Try reading "The Machine Stops" by Saki !

An interesting read - seems prophetic in some parts - but some of the premises appear questionable.

On the TV front, I'd expect the relevant execs to learn from the music industry - and from The Machine Stops, should they bother to read it - that the writing is on the wall.  They - and the advertisers! - will have to adapt.  However, if they take a leading stance, as opposed to the reactive stance of RIAA, ASCAP, et.al., they could lead the way in non-console video presentation rather than reacting to it.  The advertisers are already adapting - fancy that! - and if the TV folk can find a way of making advertising less obtrusive and more relevant to the program being presented, and if they don't get greedy, they should fare reasonably well.

Many of us are already conditioned to pay for cable, so it's not a great stretch to adapt that payment mentality to other venues. 
[Sidebar:  one of the big selling points when cable first came out was the lack of advertising - how soon we forget :o]
And with the tracking systems already in place in the wireless/Internet/mobile arena, it would be no great trick to produce advertising both relevant to what is being watched and to the person watching it.  Hey, we already see a lot of in situ advertising, some of it near-subliminal, in film and TV presentations, so this would be a very doable thing, methinks.

The mobile equivalent of broadcast and cable TV will come - not as soon as superboyac would like, but it will come.  The technology will adapt - see app103's comment on broadband - of that I'm certain.  It always does when enough people produce a perceived need.  As a for-instance, consider how the porn industry has driven several technologies in the past.  Color magazines, enhanced video technology, Web imagery, Web video, all were driven, at least in part, by the pornographers.  Oh, yeah, the technology enhancements were taken over by mainstream media, but only after the technology became popular - and effective.

By and large, what we are discussing is not technological, or even financial; it is temporal.