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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Two Stories on Linking the Net to TV

I've got a column in the Boston Globe today about the challenges of linking the Net to the TV set, in the wake of Apple's iTV announcement last week. Richard Siklos has a column in the NY Times that touches on that topic, and also discusses Web video business models more broadly.

From my piece:

    The most likely that Apple won't achieve total dominance of the Net-to-TV connection, as it has with digital music sales. ``Apple's iTV solution looks really elegant, but having said that, it's only one solution and it's not available yet," says Steven Starr, chief executive of Revver, a Web video-sharing service in Los Angeles. ``The problem of moving online content to your television is going to be solved by any number of people."

    But accessing mainstream movies and TV shows will only be part of what consumers will get from linking television with the Net -- and to my mind, the least interesting part.

    Far more interesting will be personalization services that supply you with content based on your interests; if you appreciated the movie ``Hotel Rwanda," you might also be interested in seeing an ad-supported documentary about recent developments in that country, or paying to download actor Don Cheadle's latest movie.

From Siklos' piece:

    The good that there’s gold in them there hills. Video delivered over the Internet is clearly shaping up to be an actual business that advertisers are interested in. The broadcasting (netcasting?) of television programs and clips on the Web moves the debate away from Internet-versus-TV because if TV executives put their best material online and get paid for it, the proposition becomes Internet-cum-TV.

    The research firm eMarketer estimates that video-related advertising will top $2.3 billion within four years. And let’s not forget that Google is on track to exceed $7 billion in revenue this year — and that is predominantly from old-fashioned, Yellow Pages-style text ads. Heck, they don’t even have pictures, let alone moving images.

    Much attention has been focused on the economics of selling digital versions of Hollywood movies (like in Amazon’s new Unbox service) as an alternative to DVD sales and rentals and to stem piracy. But what has yet to be exploited — what Google, Yahoo and many other aggregators are vying for — are pieces of the $60 billion or so that will be spent on television advertising in the United States this year.