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Net Loses To TV On The Night 29 July 2002 Edition
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Well the election has been and gone -- thank goodness for that!

No longer will we have to put up with politicians endlessly telling us how many hits their websites got in the past week and how committed they are to health, education, tougher sentencing and all the other boiler-plate phrases that get trotted out once every three years.

But just where did you go to get the latest information as to the state of the vote-counting on Saturday night?

Odds are that it was either TV1 or TV3.

I'm afraid that election coverage is one of those things for which the Net isn't really going to displace broadcast coverage any time soon.

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Why is this? Surely the Net gives us fast and immediate access to the latest information?

True -- it does that -- but let's face it, watching the vote counts slowly creep up on a web-browser display is hardly riveting entertainment.

The TV broadcasters know this and their coverage was propped up, fleshed out, and generally enlivened by having a number of commentators and other relevant talking heads available to fill in the gaps.

It seems that these days, everything on TV is packaged as entertainment, and coverage of Saturday's vote-counting is no different.

Unfortunately, the Net industry still hasn't quite got its head around the production of good entertainment content.

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Now before everyone emails me to say "but what about [insert favourite cartoon, website, joke of the day, etc here]?" I have to say that there are some small flashes of brilliance out there -- but by and large, the Net is not an entertaining medium, yet.

This probably explains why TV continues to thrive in the face of a growing penetration of Net services.

I wonder how long it will be before some bright spark realises that if they can produce a form of entertainment that specifically harnesses the power of the Net then they could be onto a *real* moneyspinner?

Let's face it -- there's a potential audience of over 200 million Net users out there and chances are that most of them have watched the very same TV shows -- but few of them will visit the same websites regularly or with such enthusiasm right?

If someone could just work out how to produce the Internet equivalent of BayWatch or Survivor then they'd become very, very rich, very very quickly.

Of course just because nobody's been successful doesn't mean that nobody's tried.

Perhaps the most memorable example of this was the website ourfirsttime.com which got an enormous amount of media coverage when it claimed that it was going to stream live video coverage of a couple losing their virginity. Despite, or perhaps because of, the seedy nature of the content, there was a flock of people prepared to pay good money to watch this spectacle.

(Un)fortunately, before it could screen, the whole promotion was revealed as a scam and there were tears all around.

Even though ourfirsttime.com failed because it was just a scam, the obvious potential for success that it demonstrated as a piece of Net-based entertainment content is a clear indicator that sooner or later someone/thing on the Net will challenge TV for the entertainment crown.

What about the online equivalent of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" where contestants are chosen at random from an online audience and allowed to compete for large amounts of money through an interactive online interface?

Net-based entertainment doesn't have to rely solely on streaming video to compete with TV for our entertainment dollars -- but I suspect that until broadband becomes ubiquitous, achieving true parity with broadcasters will be significantly more difficult.

So, all this just goes to show that the Net still plays second-tier to TV in most homes -- but it's only a matter of time before this changes.

Have your say.

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