Thursday, July 31, 2008

"Reports of my Death have been greatly exaggerated.... "

"Reports of my Death have been greatly exaggerated.... "

Said the Television Industry to the Media,

Over the last few years media pundits have have been predicting the downfall if not death of traditional television.
Due to both the advent of the Internet and DVD, high definition and the ability to take your media almost anywhere you go. Yes portable media is nice, handy and a nice way to kill time while waiting for doctor,ect, It will never replace the experience of sitting in your favorite lounge chair watching a High Definition Movie with 7.1 surround and eating your favorite snack, and when its over turning out the lights and going straight to bed, without driving a hour to get home.
In spite of all of the types of media there are, and ways in which one can listen to, or watch the main hub to organize and centrally locate the source seems to be some kind of media server, which uses your tv as a display screen to both navigate your media, and play it.
our old friend, Microsoft has a media server,which from what I have seen in on-line demo clips show it looking pretty good, But they didn't say exactly what was under the pretty interface, Of course it didn't crash during the demo. The idea of ripping all your movies onto a couple of huge hard drives and watching them form one box on any tv in the house is both nice, and scary at the same time.
However, with the move to a all digital format in February of next year and the popularity of content from many other sources It no wonder the death dredge for tv has been sounded.
I think it a lot premature to call the television industry dead. As long as there is mass marketing there will be mass media of some sort. Television will evolve and programing will change and the interface will change, however the lure of sitting mindlessly watch a show all evening is still strong. Hopefully the content will improve. Anyone who has followed my blog for anytime know I have little use for 99% of the new content of tv today.
What the networks are starting to understand is that the days of a captive audience are over. They have been , for the last 20 plus years when VCR and cable came along, as soon as consumers had more choices and the ability to tape something and watch when they wanted, they weren't as tied to schedules and being there when a show was on. and of course they had more shows to tape..

The tie-in between the web and the tv is getting tighter every month. Both Playstation3 and XBox360 are positioning themselves to become a media hub in the living room. Not just a box to play games on. Thats not even counting the dedicated media servers and other ways to get content to the tv.

The media content providers are saying that revenue are down. Viacom just released 2nd quarter statements, basically saying that ad revenue was stalled had only grew worldwide by 2% and US Ad sales only 1%. Which means they're not selling the ads like they had been and they fewer people are seeing the ads they do sell. Link to story;

You can read it and draw your own conclusions, Essentially the MTV generation is moving away from just sitting in front to their black box for hours at a time. They want their media with them, wherever they go, Be it MP3s notebook, or a device that plays everything from music to full motion video on a small portable screen.
The Television and Movie industry have to accept that they're not the only game in town anymore. With new computer coming out that are designed to be used as both a tv and a computer, playing content from other sources is even easier and more of a option for many folks.

The choices of content to stream on you computer, and hopefully eventually stream directly to you tv and sound system have grown considerably over the last year or so, The start with Google Video and now Youtube have opened the door for many types of streaming media to be available and the growth of broadband have allowed more people to take advantage of their faster connection by doing things they never dreamed of, Such as streaming classic tv shows on their laptops while sitting in a MacDonald's, or Starbucks or even the Library. The point is they have more options.

The top of the tv streaming heap is launched back in March it is already racking up huge number of streams and users. 83 million in June, and it keeps going up. Why all the hulua over For several reasons: One picture quality is excellent, while its not as good as watching natively on you tv, its the best I've seen online. However their compressing the feed , it opens and plays with very little shudder or lag most of the time. Compared to YouTube, its night and day. The other big thing is their selection. While they have a large number of newer programs, they have a even larger number of old classic tv, Which is great way to introduce a young person to shows you watched as a kid and still miss. While there are commercials during the shows they well spaced out and VERY sort, ie 15-30 seconds and right back to the program your watching.
Another contender for tv viewing time is DVDs. With the drop in price for a standard definition DVD player to well under a $100. most everyone has some kind of player, that not even mentioning all the Sony PS2 out there that play dvds and are used as stand alone players, and rarely play games. Of course the Movie studio have been crying pirertcy and that they're losing money for years.
With all of theses and more options available to the consumer is it a wonder that the Tv-land is shaking in its boots. There are surveys that say as much as 20% watch tv on the internet, and it will probably grow, The networks need to work to provide a wider platform to allow viewers to watch whenever they want. One may catch a show as its broadcast one week, and the next week be busy and not able to see the show, being able to go to the web and watch the show you missed and keep up is something that networks need to work on. On the web side commercials need to be kept to a mimmium or they'll drive viewers to other sources for the programing they want, and not watch the "Official" streaming version. Also the ability to download shows and watch later is also something that networks need to work on, But then there you get into the Dirty word...DRM...
Once you start actually downloading material, your opening the door to DRM issues and how dose the network control its material once its downloaded.
To compete and hold its own with the new medias coming out almost daily, the networks need to rethink their stragies, the old captive audience has long ago unlocked he door and flew away. Web content should add to the viewing experience, with such things ans interview with actors, producers ect, and behind the scene looks at how the show is made, maybe even web only offering to ad to the knowledge of the background stories of the show. this would keep viewers on the"official" site and probably make them more interested in watching the show on tv more often. By embracing the new media and helping the audience enjoy their favorite shows how and where they want to, they will in the long run build up the viewer ship they and their advertisers crave. Television has to continue to evolve with the demands of the audiences, or the television industry as a whole will wind up in the same shape as the recording industry has in the last few years. Trying to control their material and protect their precious copyright will strengthen the consumers view of the tv industry as Big Brother, and put them in the same light and breath of disdain of the RIAA. And No one wants to be thought of on their level.

Here are some Links to check out:

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Now IS The Time To Come To The Aid...Of Our Planet....

Over the last 5-6 weeks or so I had the chance to watch a new network brought to us by the Discovery family of channels. 'Planet Green" Planet Green was put on to replace a very popular Discovery Home. I must admit in all fairness I had never watched Discovery Home much, about the only show I cared for they had was "Holmes on Homes" It follows the adventures of Mike Holmes Contractor extraordinar. His mission is to go into jobs that had been either never finished or done very wrong by the original contractors and fix whatever needs fixing and fix it he way it should have been done in the first place. Simply put he treats each project like it was his own home and dose the job they way he would if it was his own place. But I digress; the emphasis of this is the replacing of Discovery Home. I have both watched many of the shows and been very active on the message boards. The concept of the network is excellent. a network devoted to everything green and sustainable, renewable and energy efficient. While the grand idea is noble, the execution leaves some to be desired. The sudden replacement of one network with a another with little or no warning is not a good start. The only way I knew about it was I read about it in my monthly magazine from Dish network, and was waiting to see what they were doing. Over all I do like the channel, they do have several shows which at this point I seen no use for, however time will tell. The important thing is that they work to bring in people who used to watch Discovery home and have turned off the new programing, mostly because they felt that wasn't fair to just kill a popular shows like Holmes on Homes, and a couple of theres that have been mentioned in the message boards, to either them or the show. I have expressed a similar opinion on the message boards along with other ideas for improving both the content of the shows and and the web site.

Over the last few years being "Green" has become socially acceptable and a financial necessity as well as environmently.too.
Here in my corner of Western New York, Wind power is all the rage theses days. There are wind turbines up in Buffalo, in Towanada a place once known for some of the worst pollution in the area, due to Bethlehem; Steel , which is now long closed, and the towers, if there even still there now stand empty with no smoke. replaced with wind turbines generating electrically. There are a number of other windmill farms in the area. In fact my five corners of Centerville is in the process of getting, I believe between 50-75 or so windmills put in in the surrounding area. I have come out in favor of them. As with any project like this there are always the naysayers, who for whatever reason are opposed to the project. While i haven't been as actively involved in the process as I would have liked to have been, The reports I've gotten is that is going well, I know they have a number of windmills up already and have seen them, and have no problems them.

The push for more fuel efficient cars has put the care makers on notice. if they don't make what the public needs they won't buy anything at all. The rise in gas price has hurt everyone across the board. A while ago a car that did 30-40 miles per gallon was considered pretty good. Now the push is to see how far we can stretch the millage, There are a number of hybrid cars, cars that run on both electric engines and when the hit a certain speed, the gas engine kicks in, the gas millage is way up and the overall appeal of the car is also up.
As the resources of the world are used up and unrepairable damage is done to the planet, the more important it is to take more drastic measures now. The idea that in 10-15 years we find that some of the prognosis that have been made by the scientist were not as dire as first thought,We would still be ahead of the game, with cleaner air and more economical ways of living.
Other areas which need serious work on being more consumer friendly are alternative power supplies, such as wind, and solar, and geothermal. The push for residential plug and play windmills and solar systems and other form of energy conservation needs to also bring the price down to where it is possible for a average family to afford to put in a system with minimum effort and a relatively quick payback. Of course the payback will be the and environment and the community.

There are many people who have a passion for the Environment and also for all things mechanical and a desire to push the envelope to see what can be built and actually work , have built many vehicles that run on alternative fuels, usually batteries, and have shown that they are viable, with more research and backing and promoting, many of theses vehicles could and should find they're way into the mainstream and compete successfully with traditional versions of their type, The vehicles I'm thinking of range from snowmobiles, to 4 wheelers and other types of vehicles not traditionally thought of in the same breath as Environmentally friendly .

The point is all means of conserving the resources of the planet need to be seriously considered. Not just the ones that are politically correct and have the highest profile, and bring in the biggest venture capitalist to help finance it. One would do well to remember that some of the giants of today and in the last 100 years started out in garages. The only difference is now its much harder to get out of the garage.

I would urge anyone who can get Planet green on the tv to please give it a look at, while there are a number of shows who's value I question, there are several shows which are interesting and informative and while your there participate in the web site .While it has its own set of issues it still need to be looked at and commented on. I realize that is is a bit of out character for me to recommend something so directly its important to both support the network and in so doing hopefully eventually help support the planet itself.