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Discussion: ipTV

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There has been a lot of talk about the state of ipTV, or more simply, video content online over the past year. For the sake of this writing I will simply include all video podcasts, vodcasts, vidcasts, streamed video shows and the like into a single unified group, excluding only the likes of YouTube and Revvr who's basis is something quite different. Some people are doing it well, some are not doing it so well, but for me no one has done it quite right yet, and here is why.


By far my favorite internet based video show is Diggnation with Kevin Rose and Alex Albrecht. The reasons for this are vast. I really enjoy the topic, which goes without saying as a Digg.com user and technology geek; really though it's all about show format. I enjoy watching a show with minimum advertising for starters.


I understand the current need for funding in such projects and some revenue has to come through advertising as the world stands today, but the ads are minimal, do not interupt content and most excitingly do not effect the show. Kevin Rose has quoted many times that all the ad contract says is that they will read the copy during the show and that if they have a negative story or opinion about the product or service being advertised they will air it none the less. A big difference from the openly biased media we have lived with for the past hundred years or so.


The essence of the show is that two guys will sit on a couch and talk about stories. With such an open format there is a decent quality of production, but it doesn't limit out off camera comments, spur of the moment re-direction, open opinion or re-direction. This connects me to the show, the hosts and the "crew" in ways the likes of the BBC and CNN will seemingly never allow.


Having a policy where by the video is released online to subscribers (around $5/pcm) on Saturdays and to everyone on Tuesdays allows me to choose to help fund the show. I have incentive, but all in all it's not locking me down, I can still see the show later if I want. Which brings up the point about downloading .vs streaming. Not only can I stream the video in a web browser and see a full show archive there in, but I can also download the shows and keep them on my local drive at a higher quality (generally 640*480px in a range of codecs which can scale really well). I generally choose to download the shows and archive them myself for future reference, meaning that not only am I generating revenue by watching the show, but Revision3 (the broadcasting company) can also say without a doubt that I will probably watch each show at least twice and thus see the ads at least twice.


Allowing me to download on Saturday a non DRM'ed show is taking a very Apple approach. Much like Apple allows me to install Mac OS X on any Mac, knowing that I have to have bought a Mac from them to install it onto, Revision3 understand that I could pass the show around before general release, but I would have to have subscribed to the show in the first place so it wouldn't make much sense. Open, trusting and somewhat common sense litterate.


The shows are generally around 30-60 minutes in length which is familiar to me from my traditional TV days while not overloading me or making me feel I have been short changed. The only thing I would change really would be the amount of content released. Both Kevin and Alex have said a number of times that there is a lot of un-edited footage from past shows, between shows and other events the crew have been to that has never been released, and despite this acknowledgment there still hasn't been a release.


Revision3 has a further 10 shows to their name and that means that I could have around 2 shows a day to watch, more than adequate. I however, like most viewers I would imagine, am only interested in a few of them. To fill my want for more I would like to see a more regular release cycle and/or more shows (something the company has been promising for a long time).


This is a much better example than some start-ups who are offering only "when we feel like it" (generally 2-3 week) release cycles of shows in low resolution which don't scale so well (or massive resolution that eats my bandwidth and my CPU cycles) at only 5-10 minute lengths, about things I could as easily have read online (and usually have), with over the top production qualities and out of date news. There are many of these services which allow only for streaming or downloads and give me no other option as well as filling many other pitfalls of the medium as is finds it's way today. To these companies I would offer the advice of checking out Revision3 and why they do so well (it's not all about Kevin, Alex or Digg.com) as well as BBC's revival of the show Top Gear a few years back. Sometimes focusing on the content and delivery draws you away from thinking about how you should be handling your content and delivery.


ipTV certainly has a long way to go, but the more people think about the viewers (the reason for the start of this "revolution" in the first instance) and put out content that viewers actually want to watch, the more chance we have of turning this whole media juggernaut on it's head for better.

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Dude! I looooove diggnation. Awesome show. :-) I do agree with you on more shows. Considering how much Digg changes through out the day, that shouldn't be a big problem. If they would go for 4-6 shows a month, that would probably make me happy enough.


And the post wasn't written all that bad, btw ;-)

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Well as a top Digg user Digg has been one of my main sources of gathering news along with Diggnation too. I honestly think it will take a couple more years for IPTV to really take off and replace cable. The battle over Net Neutrality had retarded the growth of the Internet slowing down that 15-Megabit connection we were all promised to get. Once we get some very fast connections HD streaming will finally kill cable and possibly end the format wars.

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