Value of the vacant spectrum to Google

And here’s a new twist on the digital switch overs.
Google wants the old television airwaves.
At least in the US it has these desires
Its got plans for mobile devices that would use local wireless airwaves to “access ‘white spaces’ between television channels”.

“Consumers could watch movies on wireless devices and do other things that are currently difficult on slower networks”

( and of course open up a new media advertising spectrum for Google )


What sort of currency might this development give to the future vacant television spaces in OZ?

A “free” World?

“Free” is the new black…at least that’s the view of Chris Anderson, author of “The Long Tail”. His new book explores the phenomenon of “free” on the internet. This article in Wired Magazine is by the man himself, summarising the book.

The article makes fascinating reading because he whisks the reader through a wealth of examples which seem very compelling.

Fascinating also because there are so many potential holes in his argument that your mind absolutely bubbles with new ideas.

Two thoughts in particular remain with me. The first is where does the world of “free” leave the world of “the long tail”?

The second is that the penultimate paragraph is such a foolishly sweeping combination of thoughts (essentially he appears to be saying if we had had free nuclear-generated electricity for the past few decades, there would be no global warming) that you wonder about the serious underpinnings of the whole notion.

See what you think.

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to release TV show via bitTorrent for free, and free of DRM protection

The future for public broadcasters?

From TorrentFreak via Watching TV Online

CBC, Canada’s public television broadcaster has plans to release the upcoming TV-show “Canada’s Next Great Prime Minister” for free via BitTorrent. This makes CBC the first North-American broadcaster to embrace the popular filesharing protocol.

cbcAccording to an early report, high quality copies of the show will be published the day after it aired on TV, without any DRM restrictions.

CBC is not alone in this, European broadcasters, including the BBC, are currently working on a next generation BitTorrent client that will allow them to make their content available online. The benefit of BitTorrent is of course that it will reduce distribution costs.

The popularity of movies and TV-shows on BitTorrent hasn’t gone unnoticed. We reported earlier that some TV-studios allegedly use BitTorrent as a marketing tool, and others leaking unaired pilots intentionally.

It is safe to say that BitTorrent is slowly replacing Tivo. Approximately 50% of all BitTorrent downloads are TV-shows, and some episodes of popular shows such as “Lost”, “Prison Break” and “Heroes” get up to 10 million downloads per episode, spread over thousands of sites.

It is good to see that broadcasters slowly start to realize that they can benefit from sharing their content via BitTorrent. Last month Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) made the popular TV-show “Nordkalotten 365″ available in a DRM-less format. This experiment turned out to be a huge success, while the distribution costs were close to zero.

How reliable are forecasts?

One of our industry participants has commented that surprises from the last 10 years in the media communication sphere, includes a reduction to the quality and diversity of news services through their truncated presence online.
A recent study conducted in the US and cited by Wired magazine would tend to support this view.
I include the full synopsis from the Slashdot entry for this story and its links link to the Wired article.

The Net’s Effect on Journalism |
| from the no-not-that-way-the-other-way dept. |
| posted by Zonk on Monday March 17, @08:13 (The Media) |
| |

An Associated Press article about the impact of the internet on
journalism has a few interesting findings. A few years ago, it was
expected that the internet would democratize news coverage. While print
media is being rapidly reborn online, web-based news appears to be
constraining the number of conversations instead of expanding them.
The news agenda actually seems to be narrowing, with many Web sites
primarily packaging news that is produced elsewhere, according to the
Project for Excellence in Journalism’s annual State of the News Media
report. Two stories – the war in Iraq and the 2008 presidential election
campaign – represented more than a quarter of the stories in newspapers,
on television and online last year, the project found. Take away Iraq,
Iran and Pakistan, and news from all of the other countries in the world
combined filled up less than 6 percent of the American news hole, the
project said.”


Wired Article

This is an indicator that positive effects, hypothesised as a new communication medium emerges, can actually result in their opposite effect.
I suppose we could back cast from findings like this, to identify more carefully the factors that are likely to lead to these sorts of reversals.

AOL buys Bebo

The attached article from C21 is yet another pointer to the ambitions of current media magnates (in this case, AOL-Time Warner) to “own” the users of new media: a central issue for the development of our scenarios. Bebo is a particularly interesting buy, given its development of “Kate Modern” and its growing relationships with broadcasters. Apart from its inherent interest, “Kate Modern” is also interesting for innovations in the way it engages consumers directly with advertisers. This is covered in one of the participants’ interviews, notes of which are to be circulated to project researchers this week.

It will be interesting to see how much the presence of a major Corporation stimulates innovative production ideas from previously untapped talent and spins them out to multi-platform delivery. Interesting, because the big Corporations have the capacity to cash-flow development and production in a way that the start-ups can’t.

Ready for the next digital revolution!

Nicholas Carr is the author of “Does IT Matter” which caused a major storm when it was published (Amazon quotes him saying “In May 2003, I published the article “IT Doesn’t Matter” in the Harvard Business Review. Called “the rhetorical equivalent of a 50 megaton smart bomb,” the article challenged the conventional wisdom that information technology has become increasingly important as a strategic weapon in business. In fact, I argued, IT is becoming less important as it becomes more powerful and more widespread. Some of the leading figures in the tech industry attacked the article, with Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer dismissing it as “hogwash.” But the debate over my ideas has only intensified.)

His new book is called “The Big Switch: Rewiring the World from Edison to Google” and it was reviewed yesterday in the SMH . It clearly offers some balance to the “utopian” view of the future of TV which will be useful in determining the precise nature of the matrices we develop.

The latter part of the review engages with the big issues beyond IT itself, notably the idea of personal empowerment versus big powers.

Internet TV

A stimulating piece from Australian Reseller News (ARN)/ IDG Communications, 6 March 2008:
Hugh P.
Internet TV — there will be blood
Technology key to the widespread adoption of Internet TV.

The surge of Internet TV entrepreneurs promise movies and TV programs on any screen, anywhere, anytime, yet little attention is focused on the monumental challenge and new technologies needed to make video ubiquitous.

Hyperbole about broadcast television soon following dinosaurs to extinction bubbles at Internet TV gatherings from Sundance to NATPE. Yet traditional TV’s audience — 260 million viewers in the U.S. alone — is growing.

Rather than rob traditional TV of its audience, Internet TV — including popular user-generated-video sites — builds audiences for traditional TV network programs, according to the report State of the Media 2007.

“There is money being made by networks whenever they can get more than 100,000 people to watch on the Internet,” said Gerry Kaufhold, who analyzes Internet and mobile TV for In-Stat.

Internet TV is couch potato nirvana. People who miss favorite TV programs now often watch them on their computer at work during lunch hours and spread the word to friends, which adds incremental new viewers for network and cable shows. One episode of The Office, for example, attracted 400,000 Internet viewers after its first TV broadcast. Another attraction is the chance to watch programs from lots of countries and hard-to-find movies genres like documentaries.

Digital natives aren’t the only eyeballs for network TV online. Internet TV’s popularity is growing because a wide spectrum of the population watches everything on computers from last night’s episode of House to new indie films on Web sites like Caachi.

Nearly 80 million Internet users in the U.S., or 43% of the online population, have watched a TV show on the Internet, up from 25% a year earlier, according to Toronto research firm Solutions Research Group. A new SRG survey found that about 20% of Internet users in the U.S. watch TV episodes on the Web every week, compared with 14% who use a cable operator’s video-on-demand.

Even digital video recorders that let people time shift their viewing are helping bump up the amount of time people ages 18 to 49 watch TV — especially during prime time, reports The Nielsen Company.

“Through the 2006-07 TV season, the average minutes per day per viewer has continued to increase,” said Larry Gerbrandt, a consultant with Media Evaluation Partners of Los Angeles and former Nielsen analyst. “It’s grown steadily during the last 20 years despite the Internet and all other distractions. Why? Because there are more channels, more offerings, more television sets in homes, and lots of other places with TVs on like bars, airports, and even airplanes.”

Besides, traditional TV’s audience grows simply because the number of U.S. households with televisions gets larger each year.

Meanwhile four market forces push Internet TV’s ascent, according to a September 2007 white paper by analysts Greg Ireland and Lewis Ward of IDC.

Nearly 300 million households worldwide (60 million in the U.S.) now have broadband so they can play videos on computers.

Consumers are finding videos on the Web every click of the mouse.

Professionally produced content from TV networks and movie studios and a near infinite inventory of niche, user-generated videos creates a mind-boggling library of long tail content. (500,000 user-generated video uploads a day worldwide in 2007, and expected to grow to 4.8 million by 2011.)


People’s appetite for passive entertainment isn’t satisfied yet.

The video production and distribution ecosystem is changing drastically as content producers (from movie studios to individuals) chase after the$60 billion in advertising revenue, and advertisers chase after consumers.

Advertisers,while spending some money on Internet TV, are still pumping millions to broadcast and cable networks because they deliver predictable audience numbers.

“Internet eyeballs unpredictable and fleeting,” said In-Stat’s Kaufhold. “When you’re an advertiser at end of day you want the largest number of eyeballs on a predictable basis week after week, which means broadcast TV will continue to be the biggest game in town for the next 10 years.”

However, unlike traditional TV, new Internet TV and video-sharing Web sites give advertisers a shot at getting the attention of television’s most elusive audience – males under 35 – who tend to ignore TV news and movies but gravitate to sports programs (mixed martial arts is the most popular), online video games, and often gross and graphic user-generated videos, Kaufhold said.

Seemingly infinite, narrow-interest programs available online — from Digg nation to Wine Library TV– as well as new ad models, new distribution models, and new transcoding technologies have investors, inventors, and viewers scrambling to keep up.

Bets are being placed about how new players and business models as diverse as Babelgum, Apple TV, NBC/News Corp.’s Hulu, Microsoft Internet TV, Belo/Yahoo!News, and JumpTV will fare as they co-mingle or compete with traditional broadcasters.

The challenge for content providers will be to reach consumers who want to watch videos on mobile telephones, computers, MP3 players, and otherdevices and do it over all sorts of networks. That’s going to require videos to be transcoded into some 30 existing formats (various audio and video codecs, file formats, screen resolutions and bit rates) so everybody everywhere can watch whatever they want, wherever they want to watch it.

For example, if an operator such as CNN wants to take its broadcast video from the network and put it on the, it needs to transcoded from the broadcast format into one that works well with Internet video.Here’s the problem for just one Internet TV player: YouTube transcodes 65,000 videos a day. Now YouTube is putting all of its existing videos on the Apple iPhone and Apple TV in a secondary format – H.264. This doubles YouTube’s transcoding needs each day.

“With the long tail comes the challenge of making millions of videos available when usage of most individual titles is minimal,” Ireland and Ward say in their report. “Transcoding is the key to ubiquity.”

Solving the problem will take content providers paying millions of dollars for many thousands of servers, software licenses, energy costs, and more video engineers, or the adoption of more efficient, on-demand transcoding technologies by companies such as start-up RipCode of Seattle. Otherwise that long tail of videos may never go into re-runs.