All of a sudden the technology and GUI experience of being able to watch TV via the internet is upon us. I’m not talking about YouTube or the multitude of UGC sites with a small video window and endless amounts of mindless (yet often entertaining) content.

I’m talking about the fact that most of the major networks hit shows are available to stream online whenever we want to see them. Most are also able to do so in a full screen format.

Accompanying the networks are technologies from both new and veteran technology companies. They are doing deals with all of the major networks and are able to stream this content via the web and serve it up in an on-demand model, full screen and over a standard internet connection. They are like virtual versions of the cable companies that we know of today.

…EXCEPT, they’re FREE!

Now don’t get too excited, because all that FREE stuff means we still have to watch commercials as someone has to pay for the content. But SO WHAT, we watch commercials now and that is not about to change. What will change is the shape and form in which these sponsorship messages arrive. Some of these new services come with DVR-like capabilities, allowing you to…skip commercials.

But all this is great news. It means we are getting closer to a true on-demand content model. One that may bypass out traditional cable operators, and one that will push brands and their marketing agencies to get off their asses and create compelling content that their clients customers actually want to watch.

Now, most of this content will also be pushed out to multiple devices which will also revolutionize the ad model as we know it. Technologies like Visible World will enable advertisers to push out different versions of a commercial on-the-fly depending on what device is being served at the time.

While things are moving faster than any one of us in the industry imagined, true adoption won’t take place until the traditional networks can more easily push their content out to the web, and web content creators are able push to their content to the big screen.

There are also major hurdles for the IPTV delivery companies as they try to figure out what their business model moving forward will be. They face major competition from new entries into this marketplace as the barrier to entry is low given the fact that, unlike the traditional cable companies, there are no infrastructure costs into the home & no licenses to acquire. Basically, anyone with access to money can develop a similar solution and get it up in a fairly short period of time, as Joost found out after the release of Veoh’s full-screen player. Many of these companies rely on hosted solutions as their bread and butter money, but peer to peer has proven that this is not the most efficient way to serve video and the costs soon outweigh what you can charge.

What will set these companies apart is content and their ability to quickly sign up the best of the networks in order to get the best following. The problem here is that the networks will NOT be giving exclusivity to anyone. The only option left for them at the end of the day will be to start to create and own their own content as the emerging, traditional networks had to do. Without this, they are purely a commodity play.

For more information or to sign up to be part of the Beta Testing programs of some of these IPTV companies:

Joost: On-DemandTV from major networks on your computer-full screen. (
Veoh: On-DemandTV from major networks on your computer-full screen. (
Microsoft’s LiveStation: On-DemandTV from major networks with the added ability to actually display live TV on your computer-full screen. (

If you want a more in-depth view at how quickly this has been evolving, read two blogs that I wrote within the past year on related subjects:

The death of the networks…and what is a channel anyway?…
The New Syndicators…Googled again?…

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