Tuesday, March 18, 2008

TV Content Going to the Web, Web Content Going to the TV...I'm Confused

The "hot" trend today is to take TV content, like popular shows, movies, clips, and even commercials, and make them available online. But it also seems that there's a rapidly growing trend to do the reverse: take Web (or just PC) content, like YouTube videos or family home movies, and make them available for the big-screen TV experience.

iTunes is the obvious example of the former, offering tons of movies and TV shows for download to the PC. But there are plenty of other sites and services that do much the same: YouTube, Joost, Miro, and Slingbox are just a few. The advantages to this are obvious: you can watch video on-the-go (in an airplane or train, for example) rather than being tied to your living room. In many cases, you're also able to load that video onto a portable device, like an iPod or other media player, for an even more "portable" and untethered experience.

But wait: now that we've perfected (albeit with nasty copyright restrictions) the TV-to-Web experience, the exact opposite trend is emerging, bringing valuable Web and PC content to the TV. Enter devices and services like AppleTV, Xbox LIVE Marketplace, and, most recently, YouTube, which has just partnered with TiVo (in the U.S.) to permit playback of its videos on the big screen via a new TiVo DVR and software upgrade.

While it appears that the Web is king, there's also an inherent desire to enjoy video the way we've become accustomed to doing. So while there is tons of cool, user-generated video online, and while you can watch your home movies on the computer screen, people still want to gather 'round in the living room and enjoy the fancy new big-screen plasma or LCD. On that same note, we've grown to understand that the Web can serve as a sort-of archival storage space for all kinds of neat video. If you saw a hilarious commercial on TV last night and want to share it with a co-worker, it's probably available online. If you want to learn more about a breaking news story that interrupted your fav show, there's probably video footage on the Web that provides additional information.

For someone looking from the outside in, this might all sound confusing. First you want to access TV on the Web, but then you go back to watching the TV in your living room anyway? I don't get it. But really, it's not an either/or situation. What consumers want is the ability to access all kinds of content everywhere. In other words, producers of content that's typically available through cable or satellite providers can benefit a lot from what the Web has to offer, and vice versa. It's almost a no-brainer proposition.

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