When there are changes in social habits within a culture, we often tend to look for a defining moment to describe that change. The particular moment we define may not be the singular event that caused the cultural change, but is usually an event that best captures the characteristics of that event. (i.e “years of the Ipod” will probably define overall MP3 Mania)
I believe we are on the cusp of such a defining moment in the area of television viewing. We are wrapping up the last days of the TV watching phenomenon known as time shifted viewing. Starting with VTRs and ending with TIVOs along with cable’s On-demand programming, we will now enter the next TV watching experience : IPTV. Since IPTV is still a concept, it has different meanings with different people. For discussion here, lets define it as on demand television viewing via internet protocol. As a merge of cable’s On demand service programming along video podcasting, I believe that IPTV is about to sky rocket.
You may ask me why it hasn’t happened already? Companies like Archos and Wifi TV have been offering their solutions already in this realm. Hasn’t this craze already begun? Yes it has – Just as satellite TV was used prior to the Direct TV / Dish Network craze, there are always pioneers and bleeding edge consumers who pave the way. I myself was involved in a venture company that was streaming IP content as early as 1998. I believe the key component is critical mass. There is a point in time where new technology is understood and is adapted by the mass consumer market. We are on the precipice of that IPTV mile marker.
What will be the genesis of IPTV? A couple of factors. First and foremost is Apple’s upcoming “iTV” set top box that is set to be announced soon. Steve Jobs eludes to his iTV box as being the Itunes for your living room. There is a trust level that consumers now have with Apple. Overall, customers have had positive experiences with the Ipod, and they will be open to new Apple technology. Additionally, the new level of high end game consoles permit for more than game play, allowing for movie watching on a disc locally or watching via IP. Tivo is also experimenting with the replay of IP based shows.
Podcasters who have been experimenting with this technology are just getting the hang of it themselves – And just in time! Podcastcasters that are catching early audiences have started to realize that they need more than solid programming. To take their shows to the next level, they have realized the value in product “branding”. Two examples that come to mind are Leo Laporte’s “TWiT” (This Week in Tech) and Kevin Rose’s “Rev3”. Both brands now have multiple popular shows and are now being put under their own “umbrella”. I think this is key in their marketing success as IPTV rolls out.
Other companies like CNET and Ziff Davis will probably soon follow suit with their podcasting projects, and put more energy into marketing and more emphasis into branding. Ziff Davis and it’s competitors may be gun shy after living through TechTV’s failure in cable. I remind them not to forget that the all the dynamics with podcasting are far different than with cable, and being reluctant now may put them behind in this new upcoming IPTV wave. Don’t worry guys, your audience is tech savvy and is out there. They will be early adopters.
I solute all of the early podcast pioneers working with the limited resources they have; and wish you the best in success for seeing the future. To help inspire you, I know and have seen a working profitable model using this technology. Rolling out programming now will hope further cash in on a growing audiences.
And a personal note to Podcasters: The pioneers always take the most arrows. The ones who follow you have it easy. Podcasters “get it”, and “get it now”. This is bleeding edge technology, but not for too much longer. Try to survive guys, the future is near! I have been waiting for a decade for this concept to come to fruition and I can’t wait for the great road ahead.