YOUTUBE HAS ALREADY placed itself firmly as market-leader in boredom destruction; as the eternal and slick VHS recorder (back episodes of Sabrina the Teenage Witch online, anyone?) and the (almost) censorship success story.
Pay per view services already exist, such as Hulu and Netflix in the US, and See-Saw in the UK. The most primal form of PPV means that you buy your shows like you would in a shop, only you pay for that one-time viewing. A package or a subscription to a site allows either unlimited or fair-use policies, which are backed by commercials.
As of today, YouTube has finished testing a new live streaming platform. Although it is no stranger to this – having broadcast U2, Indian Premier League Cricket and events from the White House live, the latest update says:
“…all broadcasters need is a webcam or external USB/FireWire camera. Included in the test is a “Live Comments” module which lets you engage with the broadcaster and the broader YouTube community. Based on the results of this initial test, we’ll evaluate rolling out the platform more broadly to our partners worldwide.”
– Joshua Siegel, Product Manager and Christopher Hamilton, Product Marketing Manager
Greater accessibility = you do not have to be in the White House to afford online streams. YouTube are working with Howcast (video how-to guides), Next New Networks (the people behind Indy Mogul), Rocketboom (NYC videoblog) and Young Hollywood (gossip site).
Sounds irrelevant and boring now, but in less than 5 years, this very public test will have shaped how we watch television, where there may be more autonomy given to smaller broadcasters, whom of which in future, could decide that being on a TV network isn’t lucrative anymore.
Real-time broadcast and entertainment are pretty much the crown and sceptre of what any cable television channel basically provides over most digital channels. Everything else is the same: content from independent companies, and commericals. (Unless it’s publicly funded with no external advertising.)
Other sites use purely advertising as revenue catchers. We grow ever-familiar with live online advertising thrown at us before and between watching shows.
For example, in the UK, 4oD has a commercial break in the middle of its shows. VEVO typically has a pre-video ad. As we also grow dependent on these online providers for entertainment, the relatively cheap broadband prices are likely to increase heavily as a result.
At the moment, the untouchables are live news, live local content and live sport. These are going to be the challenges for web developers. The trick now is for TV channels to act fast and figure out a way to monetise online distribution before the ISPs do it first.
Jane McConnell is Digital Publisher at Future Artists