Hands up everyone who believed the predictions that the Internet was going
to all but replace television as the entertainment and information medium
of the late 20th and early 21st century.
the contents of Aardvark's "million-dollar ideas" notebook
are revealed for all to see!
Sigh... oh dear, there's always one in every crowd.
Actually, a huge number of people thought this was a reasonable assumption --
after all, it would allow completely personalised content to be delivered
"on demand" using a wide range of mechanisms.
Streaming video was perhaps the most promising of these technologies -- offering
the tantalising potential to deliver near broadcast quality programming to
your computer screen from anywhere in the world in the blink of an eye.
Long-time Aardvark readers will recall that I worked with former TV3
journalist Scott Mathias and his extremely able producer Romi to bring
you a weekly technology program that was delivered via streaming video.
Unfortunately we were about 10 years ahead of the market and although
our audience was modest to good (given the small size of the Net population
and vertical nature of the content), there was no way this was going
to make money.
It's also unfortunate that the cost of creating a video-based product is
enormously greater than that of creating purely web-based content -- so
there was no way we could keep such a venture running for any length of time.
So, delivering regular video programming over the Net is still not really a
viable business yet -- but what about the reverse -- interactive TV?
Will interactive TV really work?
I have my doubts.
As I've said before -- TV is basically a passive medium and many viewers tend
to enter a vegetative state when positioned in front of the box -- returning
to consciousness only during the regular eight minute advertising segments that
screen every five minutes or so.
Are TV viewers really going to use a cumbersome remote or clunky keyboard to
order Pizza or send email via their interactive TV? Remember -- most people
can't even set the time on their VCR!
But -- all is not lost in the convergence of broadcasting and the Net.
I see that Net-users will be able to listen to a brand new episode of
the immortal Dr Who next month.
So, the Net isn't about to kill TV anytime soon -- but I have a feeling that
sales of short-wave radios have dived in recent years.
When I was a kid, the only way to listen to a foreign radio station was to
erect a huge aerial and tune in on the short-wave bands. Through the hiss,
static and buzzing, you would occasionally hear the Voice of America or
BBC World Service Radio fade in and out.
Today however, I can tune into literally hundreds of commercial radio stations
from all over the planet by simply firing up my web-browser.
Will this ever happen to TV I wonder?
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