Oh, Internet Video. What a crazy, crazy beast you are!
Despite the new found public awareness, Internet Video is nothing new. Video content has been online for almost ten years. Back in the day it was crude and took forever to download. But it was also the start of Something Big.
I first uploaded my short films while in high school. Other young film makers watched and commented on them on the website LikeAStory (Ten points if you remember that site). Some knew back then that this was going to be important. Those in the porno industry were the first to fully adopt the new technology. They moved things along nicely in terms of compression and quality, but it took a while for the rest of the world to get computers and high speed Internet. Now, the state of the Internet, the Internet audience and Entertainment in general are all lined up and ready for the future. Hollywood is finally ready to step up.
Santa Claus is not going to drop off “Internet TV” one night to the children of the world. Like all other new mediums, it is going to evolve into something, that in 5 to 10 years, people will ask how they ever lived without. Two things are happening simultaneously that will eventually converge to create TV of the Future – The content and the hardware;
Production companies, headed by some big Hollywood names, are investing money to produce original online content. These shows are in a very early stage. They will be laughed at in five years when the full potential of Internet TV is realized. But they are absolutely vital in these infant years. They are demonstrating to the Internet public that an online series can work.
It’s “The Next Big Thing”.
At present, these original online shows are separate from what the established networks and Apple are doing. The major networks have their shows available on their websites and/or through iTunes in a half assed attempt to follow the trend. Until they are released in full screen and full quality the networks will have no chance of competing with what is coming. Apple, on the other hand, is following their software/hardware model they learned from the iPod to a T. Control the content and create the hardware and you are sure to make money.
The worlds of Apple TV and original online content will soon collide, bringing a new wave of Entertainment to the TV and Computer Screen. Right now there is no good option to find quality original online content. The content is scattered all over the Internet on Social Networking sites like MySpace and Facebook and Video Sites like YouTube, Revver and any other of the over 150 similar video portals. While there is not a lot of high quality content available, one of the major issues is that there is not an iTube sort of application to easily locate this new programming. Once more high quality content comes out, an easy way to find it all will be released. Then you can either beam it to your TV (By this time Apple will not be the only name in the game) or just watch it on your computer.
Sites like YouTube will forever be known as housing low quality content. A new name will emerge to be the central location for high quality content… A site similar to a cable Network that acquires content and pairs it up with advertisements. Once all of this happens, people will begin to throw out their cable boxes and tell Time Warner to fuck off (Words most of us have been dying to say for ages). This brings up a few major issues;
Bandwidth: If everyone gets their TV via the Internet we are going to need some large pipes and fast connections. That means we might need Time Warner’s services after all. That means they still have some control in all of this. And that makes the Internet not so Free. Which brings us to point two,
Regulation: The Internet is still fairly lawless. Once the masses are getting TV distributed via the Internet, however, I am sure the FCC will have a thing or two to say. For the next couple years I suspect (and encourage) a wave of very rash programing that will make South Park look like Sesame Street. Thats a good thing. Not to say the viewing public wants programming full of swears, sex and gallons of blood, but giving artists complete creative freedom with absolutely zero restrictions on content can create some incredible things.
There is a lot to figure out, but a very promising future lies ahead of us. It is up to us, the pioneers, to ensure that it is done correctly. It is up to us to make sure the same mistakes are not made like in the heyday of TV. Internet Based TV (And film) is a BIG deal. It’s the biggest thing going on in the Entertainment business. Those who look the other way now will be left in the dust as the future rolls over them.