Giles Turnbull sees no future for the concept of sitting down to watch television in the living room .
The web is changing the whole concept of TV for the younger generation. They find it laughable that that they might want to sit down in front of a large plastic box in the living room, watching whatever it is that the broadcasters decide is on offer this evening.
They know what they want to watch, and increasingly it’s to be found online.
Sites like YouTube (youtube.com), recently purchased by Google, are responsible for the changing way people think of video content.
YouTube is packed with pop videos, cartoons, blog snippets, reviews, dancing, jokes, anything you can think of. Some of it professional, most of it amateur, a lot of it funny.
Youngsters have flocked to this site (and several imitators), because it’s not just about the watching. It’s about the taking part. They can add their own video content. Anyone can be a ratings winner.
Some bloggers have, in the past, claimed that weblogs would bring about the death of newspapers and magazines. Not so; they will merely take away a percentage of the printed media’s readership, just as digital TV takes away viewers from our existing terrestrial channels.
That’s the opinion of Jason Calcanis, CEO of Weblogs Inc in America.
The company was built to make profit from weblogs, and is doing so very well.
The same argument can be applied to online video sites. They are not going to kill off TV as we know it; but they are slowly, relentlessly going to suck away some of the viewers, mostly in the younger age groups.
Advertisers will not be happy about this, of course, and unhappy advertisers means unhappy TV company executives.
But there’s not much they can do to stem the tide. The very manner in which TV shows are distributed is starting to change.
Some are selling programmes, rather than broadcasting them for nothing. There’s no adverts at all that way. Another approach is to embed the advertised products in the TV shows themselves, but will that go down well with today’s sophisticated audiences?
TV shows are on sale in America at Apple’s iTunes Music Store, where they can be picked up for as little as 1.99 dollars – about a pound – per episode.
This kind of low pricing is very attractive to buyers, since it makes buying a TV episode something you’d consider in the same range as buying a bottle of fizzy drink, or a large size chocolate bar, or a half of beer in the pub. An impulse buy.
In Apple’s site, you buy shows and you "own" them. You can watch them again as much as you like, copy them to a certain number of other computers, put them on your iPod.
Other companies are looking at subscription models, charging a monthly fee for people to download and watch as much stuff as they like, although with more restricted rules on usage.
Whatever system becomes the norm, this is how most of today’s children are going to think of "TV" as they grow up. That box in the living room will be something only the oldies still use.