Internet TV

Hulu, YouTube, Funny or Die, Revision3…. these are but a few of the players online with streaming television shows. Internet TV takes the concept of OnDemand and raises it to the next level.  I remember as a kid always hearing, “One day you will be able to watch whatever you want whenever you want”. Now while I can’t watch whatever I want, there is a great selection of television shows streaming online at sites like Hulu, The WB, NBC, ABC and CBS. None of those options are truly groundbreaking though (ok maybe Hulu), the real value of Internet TV is original content. Shows like The Guild, are insanely entertaining and thanks to social media have been able to go mainstream.

Revision3 is an Internet television station with a a wide offering of shows including, The Totally Rad Show, Diggnation, Film Riot, Tekzilla and COOP, with content ranging from the top stories on Digg to video games to film making. Revision3 shows all share a common bond, they are all very creative and all extremely well made. COOP recently started airing their show live every Tuesday night at 7 pm EST, this is a departure from the streaming video podcast format on the rest of the “channel”. This kind of live programing added with the watch anytime sentimentality of Revision3 are a perfect marriage of Internet and Television. Viewers are offered  a chance to watch the show live and interact with the hosts while still giving viewers the option to watch at their leisure.

Hulu.com streams full-length television episodes and feature films, and is a partnership of NBC, Fox, ABC and others, it was announced in early March 2010 that due to rising rights fees Hulu would no longer carry  Comedy Central’s hit shows The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. It is issues like this that will keep streaming video sites that offer full-length content from being truly free. Nearly all videos have ads, this is currently how Hulu generates revenue, but rumors are constantly floating about switching to a fee based revenue model. The only way they can offer fees is if videos are show uninterrupted and commercial free, and of course if they have the entire run of a series to date. It is unfair and will drive visitors away if they are expected to pay for only the past 5 episodes and still have to watch ads during each video. What makes Hulu win out over other video streaming sites like The WB or any of the Networks on websites is the user interface, it’s easy to navigate and find the exact content you are looking for, if it s not on Hulu they even offer links to where you can find it on the web. This is because Hulu is so confident in their product they know viewers will be back to Hulu and streaming the videos they do have (which is a considerable library).

Network television seems to be making more and more mistakes whether it is continuing to show Heroes or not making V a 13 episode mini-series (which it probably will because it’s not very good and there will be no ending). The more television clings to the past and they why they have done Tv for the past few years the more ratings will drop and viewers will go elsewhere to content and entertainment. Elsewhere is of course sites like YouTube and Funny or Die, who hasn’t
lost an entire evening surfing one of those to site watching videos and suggested videos and replies to suggested videos? The point is networks need to understand the Internet is a real rival and is here to stay and one way or the other viewers will get the content for free. Whether they get it legally or illegally that’s not for me to decide or condemn, but the fact of the matter is good content wants to be seen and the more networks expose their shows to the Internet the larger fan base these show will enjoy. If I am free to watch shows on my computer, TV or mobile device without incurring more and more charges. Shows with modest viewership can find a home on the web.

Revision3 sent and open letter to Conan O’brien offering him the moon to bring his brand of humor to the web. Now Conan will most likely end up on Fox or another channel like that, but I feel like Coco on the Web (you can use that Conan) would be an amazing undertaking. He would be free of network censors and watch dog groups. With the advent of social media the world is more connected than ever and is on a 24 hour cycle, and no one wants to be constrained to a television schedule or someone else’s timetable. They want what they want when and where they chose.

So network studios free your content, now I’m not saying make it free… I’m saying remove the leash of the Time Warners, DirecTVs, Fios of the world and put the content where it belongs in the hands of the viewers, fans and causal observers. If content is good and worth paying for people will pay, if it is available to watch on their own timetable, they will watch. Take a look at YouTube and Revision3 and understand it is OK to open your content up to as many people as want to see it, trust me you will be surprised by the amount of hits or views or however you want to track this information. Television used to be all about innovation, excitement and coming together, now all it seems to do is frustrate, disappoint and divide. The Internet is here to stay, the more it is embraced the better off everyone will be.

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