The TV-Internet Merger: Hang On For An Exciting Ride!

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According to the ChoiceStream 2007 Survey of Viewer Trends in TV and Online Video , 55% of consumers who watch TV also watch some type of video on devices other than their television sets – computers, cell phones, iPods, etc.

Because our media can come from so many different sources, we have become multi-taskers – text messaging during movies or watching television while searching and surfing on the Internet. In fact, some programs even encourage this kind of behavior – American Idol, for instance, allows a person to vote by text messaging. We know from numerous studies and feedback that watching television while doing something else like surfing the Web is one the most common offline activities connected with Internet use.

It’s safe to say that a TV- Internet merger seems inevitable.

A “Win-Win” for Both TV and Online Content Providers.
TV really is the best source on which to watch high-quality video – a feature gamers prefer, for instance – and given the fact that Internet content has come a long way from rough home-video clips, this “merger” would offer viewers a huge selection of on-demand content like movies, television shows, YouTube videos and short films.

This combination would be like cable television on steroids, thus giving television a much-needed boost. We’d also see huge potential for other highly interactive features like logging into a chat room while watching your favorite show or perhaps a sports game.

TV and Internet are far from strange bedfellows, so the burning question is – what do their children look like?

The TV-Internet Hybrid Solution.
Devices that bring together television and the Internet aren’t new.

For instance, Apple, Inc. offers Apple TV, which copies video, music and photos from a user’s iTunes collection and then plays them on the TV. Then, there’s TiVo, which allows users who have their machines connected through broadband Internet access to watch Internet video.

The Xbox 360 also offers movies and episodes of television shows for download through its Xbox Live online service. These devices are fairly simple to set up and users already have the machine connected to their televisions and in most cases, to the Internet. Gamers love communicating with one another while playing, and this capability has become a major selling point to this technology-savvy group.

Akimbo offers the Akimbo Player which provides access to its company’s broadband service and offers a video-on-demand subscription service. The box sits atop the TV and connects to both the television and the Internet either through an Ethernet cable or wirelessly.

There’s also been a lot of coverage of Apple’s decision to get in on the DVD business, joining “king of the mailbox” Netflix in offering movies through the Internet. Apple recently announced that it plans to offer first-run movies on iTunes just one month after they are released on DVD (with a HD option, no less).

So, if there is a demand (or at least a desire) for combining TV and Internet to create a veritable living room paradise and most will agree that there is, why aren’t these solutions flying off the shelves?

A Few Kinks.
Just like all mergers, partnerships and technological advances, the television/Internet hybrid solution is not without issues. The main problems seem to be:

The gadgets are too complicated (at least for most people) to set up. Many of these devices need to be hooked up to both the TV and the Internet. Additionally, some consumers feel they need another gadget like they need another remote control: they aren’t interested in adding another gadget to their home entertainment center unless it’s giving them a truly unique service, something they can’t get anywhere else.

Neither a one-stop-shop nor a plug-and-play.
Sure, consumers can watch downloaded videos on their television with these gadgets, but what does it take to get to that point? In some cases, the download times can take as long as the actual shows and in other cases, they have to use their computers to place the order before it can be accessed on the television.

Pricing?
Sure, technology doesn’t come cheap (though prices are always coming down while the gadgets and services continue to get better). People are still getting used to paying for services and options that simply didn’t exist just a few years ago. So while they may be questioning price or delaying a purchase or choice based on money, in the end, these options become integral and “must-have” parts of home and office life. (Remember the beginning days of the “facsimile?” Now no business can afford to be without a fax machine.) 

Not enough choices.
People love to watch videos on the Internet because of the wide variety. From streaming television shows to unique YouTube videos, there’s something for everyone. Unfortunately, most of the new solutions don’t offer comprehensive choices.

Even with the questions and hiccups along the way, Internet Television is still expected to be one of the fastest growing trends for 2008. Once advertisers, movie studios and television producers get on board, there’s no telling what the future could hold for this developing technology. Stay tuned!

6 COMMENTS

  1. You should do a bit more research. Akimbo no longer offers a set-top box. The company gave up on that back in June ’07 after very poor sales.

  2. I really like the tv/internet merger. I think that there will be great success for this market. Times are changing where there is more customization and focus on the customer. There is so much more at the fingertips of the customer. They are being fed things that are more of what they want because of this customization.

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