Television is Dead. Long Live Television.

On-demand streaming entertainment is the new laser disk, the new VHS tape, the new DVD. My computer is the new television. I am no longer captive to the prime time viewing schedule, to distractingly long commercial breaks, or well…to my television. I am in control of my entertainment now.  Sure, I might have to wait 8 days for the next episode of House on Hulu.com, but that is a small price to pay. For hundreds of millions of people they might still be waiting for good-old TV as we know it, and still millions more are happy with the way it is, but there are us on the fringe that see where all this is going. The networks understand this too. Most of the good shows are available on the web for on-demand viewing shortly after it has aired on prime time. If they aren’t running their own on-demand services the networks are using services like YouTube and Hulu to get their content in front of their new audience – me.

This poses a puzzle to content producers like Showtime who have some great content but very little of it is available on the net (unless you subscribe to Netflix and stream on-demand the first two seasons of Dexter). Showtime gives me the season premiere teaser episode online in the hopes that I will subscribe with my cable provider (on my TV which is six feet under) or worse I can DOWNLOAD it from iTunes or Amazon.  I don’t want to download it. I don’t want to fill up my HDD with clips that I won’t ever watch again but hate to delete because I paid money for it. I want to stream it, I want my buffer to overfloweth, and when I am done watching I want it to be gone. Showtime if you are reading this then get a reasonable subscription based model for ALL of your content and watch the viewers flock to you. It’s a brave new world.

This is also great news for advertisers too because for the first time content providers can really, really, show them how many viewers are seeing their commercials. Finally, they have the focused target audience that they have dreaming of and are willing to live with  limited commercial interruptions in exchange for convenience. So how about making sure that you target them with appropriate advertising. I was watching a show online aimed to men 25-30 and the commercial was for dish detergent. Really, dish detergent. You had me captive for 45 minutes, a viewer with disposable income, and you present me with dish detergent. The worst part is that commercial played over and over again (and over and over again I switched to another window to do something else). Hey advertisers this is your chance to bring the traditional television campaign to the net, be smart about it.

Pay-for-Networks and advertising issues aside streaming video is already becoming the largest part of the Internet experience, and as long as video compression continues to improve and bandwidth continues to be plentiful and inexpensive, it is here to stay.

Have you turned in your TV for streaming video over the Internet? If not, why not? Let me know if the comments.

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