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Television Media Technology

The End of Broadcast TV as We Know It? 91

mattnyc99 writes "The DVR revolution is nothing that new—and neither is the Neilsen ratings company's adaptation to it. But Glenn Derene at Popular Mechanics argues that users have officially pushed us into a new era of television, wherein viewers now shape the way that networks make money, which means we'll start to see users control the way the networks choose programming. From the article: 'The systemic use of ad ratings as one of the standard metrics for assessing viewership is a sea change, and it's perhaps the sign that as an industry, broadcasters and advertisers are sailing into uncharted waters.'"
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The End of Broadcast TV as We Know It?

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  • No, Really (Score:2, Interesting)

    No, Really. I just posted to a thread on "à la carte" cable television on this subject - it's good news for everyone, as monopolies over "viewing slots" will be no more. To a user with a remote control, a stream or a channel is exactly the same thing, but the beauty is that he can watch what he wants, when he wants.

    This will also throw the TV advertising market into chaos... will ad spots become something like Google's adSense, but in visual?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Yes, I know, RTFA. No, I don't think that DVR will do the same that streaming will... It's just your old VCR all over again: If advertisers could never find a way to "get at you" with that machine, nor will they with this one.

      I can only imagine shows "coded" to let a server know which ads should go where at playback... but that would mean having a (very turn-offable) connection to the show's server. Would they try to scramble show content (with a 'playback' key) to make you have to connect to their server?
      • Well, they could introduce a "don't skip this" flag, so that you couldn't fast-forward across ads (similar to what DVDs already do). OTOH the answer would probably be machines which do exactly the opposite: Automatically skip everything with the "don't skip this" flag, thus automatically removing ads.
        • Re:No, Really (Score:5, Insightful)

          by speaker of the truth ( 1112181 ) on Saturday June 16, 2007 @10:02AM (#19531677)

          OTOH the answer would probably be machines which do exactly the opposite: Automatically skip everything with the "don't skip this" flag, thus automatically removing ads.
          I know exactly what you mean. I went and bought a new DVD player that did exactly this.

          Oh wait, I can't buy a new DVD player that does this. What makes you think television would be any different?
          • by Detritus ( 11846 )
            The reason that you can't do that on your DVD player is patents. You can't license the patents necessary to manufacture a DVD player without agreeing to a big package of rules and requirements. That isn't an issue for a DVR.
            • Isn't an issue, yet. If DVRs start hurting the bottom line too much and become necessary for future revenue, expect a new protocol to be developed that funnily enough has a patent involved.
              • Easy answers. Chinese DVRs that ignore the "mandatory" limitations appear on the market. Or chipped players. Or homebrew tech. Only the obedient sheeple will then be screwed.
                • I hate the term sheeple- I had a roommate that used to use it all of the time. Can't we just use a known term like the unaware or sleepers or idiots.
          • by mtoley ( 641838 )
            Try finding a no-name Chinese brand DVD. Some of them you find online will bypass region checking and "no-skip" flags in DVDs.
          • I tend to watch dvd's more than tv because stations like PBS in Malta flatly refuse to show Doctor Who...
      • As long as you equate a DVR to a VCR you'll overlook the SCORES of other options out there to advertisers.

        For example...

        What if, when I was FF'ing in my Tivo, what if 2 copies of every commercial were coded into the broadcast? What if it plays a commercial designed for high-speed viewing that gets displayed when I FF? It would probably look more like a banner ad on your screen than a commercial as we know it, but it's still advertising.

        What if the Tivo takes product-placement to the next level, giving you t
        • My first reaction to anything they covertly include in my recording is to find a way to detect/get rid of it. I would also be inclined to stop recording in that way altogether, should there be another "meddle-free" means of recording the same media.

          Might I add here that I don't see any reason to have high-quality content for free... shows such as "Lost" must pay for themselves somehow, and I (for one) am only all to willing to contribute in order to make sure that such content continue. Need we rely on a
      • by Fatal67 ( 244371 )
        Google is already in business with cable and satellite companies. Google has bought a large chunk of the ad slots available and will serve ads based on user habits. Echostar is turning over 100% of their veiwer measurement data to Google. It has been scrubbed (removing your account id basically) but they know every remote click you make, when you make it, and what was on exactly at the moment you decided you didnt want to watch it. Very cool but also very scary.

        Product placement inside shows has already r
    • How does it dissolve "time slots"? Can the DVR record multiple video streams at the same time? Do DVR's record multiple HD streams at the same time? Can HDTV broadcast in 1080p and would DVR's be able to keep up with multiple streams at that rate? If DVR's are similar to VCR's in that they can record one stream while you watch another, it doesn't seem they eliminate "time slot monopolies" any more than VCR's.

      What is it with DVR's (over VCR's) that is causing a paradigm shift?

  • Broadcast TV is sooooooo April 2007. I though this site was supposed to be about news not ancient history. Did they dig up another Tyrannosaurus Rex watching commercials on Fox or something?
    • Did they dig up another Tyrannosaurus Rex watching commercials on Fox or something?

      No, just the metrosexual Cavemen buying auto insurance.

  • Part of the new wave (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Belacgod ( 1103921 ) on Saturday June 16, 2007 @07:22AM (#19530923)
    I don't have a TV. I buy DVDs and watch shows online (currently going through Heroes on NBC.com). It's vastly superior, though the video quality on nbc.com sucks. I hope they're counting my hits and basing at least part of their business model on that.
    • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Saturday June 16, 2007 @08:53AM (#19531335)
      I don't have a TV. I buy DVDs and watch shows online.

      But less than half - perhaps much less than half - of American households have broadband service.

      Subtract from that the number - the rather large number, I suspect - who don't have or don't want the "media center PC."

      Those who don't want to watch TV on the small-screen PC monitor. Those who don't want to be drawn into the complexities of wired or wireless "slingboxes."

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MtViewGuy ( 197597 )
      The Apple TV device and the on-demand service available from cable companies is a preview of what will be the future of television watching.

      Except for "live" events like sports, news and a very small selection of entertainment programming, I think we are on the verge of a major revolution where instead of being tied down to a broadcast schedule, we can get programming by either downloading it to a home server machine or by the on-demand playback through your digital cable box. That essentially makes the who
      • with DVD players so widely used, don't be surprised that we will start seeing TV series done specifically for DVD distribution, unfettered by FCC censorship regulation

        There is nothing new in production for home video.

        Disney has been in this market since the '90s.

        But Disney can take a $100 million loss on a theatrical feature like Treasure Planet and still remain solvent. The independent who tries direct-to-video with a project as innovative and expensive as Deadwood can sink without a trace.

        • Yes, but those Disney direct to video (DTV) releases are movies. What I mean by TV series is that you get new episodes released on a monthly to bimonthly schedule as a DVD release only, something I've never heard done anywhere in the world....
    • by Mike89 ( 1006497 )

      I don't have a TV
      The Onion [theonion.com]
  • A question... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sane? ( 179855 ) on Saturday June 16, 2007 @07:43AM (#19531035)

    Assume that network broadcast TV is dead.

    What would be your ideal programming of video content?

    Would you want adhoc channels put together by others to your tastes?
    Would you want just one or two key programmes?
    How would you want to get your news/weather?
    What about current affairs/politics?
    Are long running independent serials good, or do you want story arcs?
    What place the one-off?

    When there are no constraints, what is the best way of getting your interest in content and delivering it?

    • What would be your ideal programming of video content?

      I'm not sure.

      Would you want adhoc channels put together by others to your tastes? Would you want just one or two key programmes?

      Sometimes, I guess. I'm not sure.

      How would you want to get your news/weather? What about current affairs/politics?

      Unbiased and accurate, I guess. At least I can say that the big problem with news and current affairs coverage is that it's so terribly biased, full of BS and propaganda that it's as good as useless.

      Are long running independent serials good, or do you want story arcs?

      I reckon most people want long running independent serials, except for the ones that don't.

      What place the one-off?

      They both have one-offs.

      When there are no constraints, what is the best way of getting your interest in content and delivering it?

      If I could have my way, I'd have free-to-air TV with a 'skip this crap' button. In all probability I'd be watching TV from 10 years from now, by now.

      • There is no such thing as unbaised news. Unless you watch CSpan there is a bias, and even CSpan is biased in the events it shows. What you want is news with a correctly stated bias.
    • Would you want adhoc channels put together by others to your tastes?

      If the shows are high quality this works fine.

      Would you want just one or two key programmes?


      How would you want to get your news/weather?

      Neither of these is currently done by the telivision. Nor would I ever watch tv to get this.

      What about current affairs/politics?


      Are long running independent serials good, or do you want story arcs?

      I want character development and plot. I don't care how it's accomplised.

      What place the one-off?

  • by Ash-Fox ( 726320 ) on Saturday June 16, 2007 @07:56AM (#19531067) Journal
    I'm not a great television watcher, infact I don't even own a television myself.

    However recently I got the chance to watch some television, while the ads during breaks were annoying, what I encountered was more annoying. During the program I was watching, suddenly some magical gradients took over the lower part of the screen and advertisements started appearing for different programs to watch and so on.

    It's quite annoying and I'm glad I haven't wasted money on obtaining a TV recently.

    So, my question is, how does DVR solve that?

    If it doesn't, I'm pretty sure people will be seeing more of it.
    • Some stations do this quite a bit, others not a lot or not at all. I've noticed TBS often has some long, big, annoying ads covering big chunks of the screen.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by NoMaster ( 142776 )

      ... suddenly some magical gradients took over the lower part of the screen and advertisements started appearing

      At least in Australia, that's not advertising (according to the non-binding voluntary non-guidelines of FACTS [freetv.com.au]). As far as they're concerned, it's not counted as advertising unless it covers 100% of the screen.

      I'm dreading the day they start running 719x575 "banners" over programmes...

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by TrashGod ( 752833 )
        I'm dreading the day they start running 719x575 "banners" over programmes...

        The TV Guide Network (TVGN) has been doing this since day one, and it's growing. If the guide part is the program, then the ad part is now over 75% of the screen.
    • During the program I was watching, suddenly some magical gradients took over the lower part of the screen and advertisements started appearing for different programs to watch and so on. [...] So, my question is, how does DVR solve that?

      Same as any commercial... You skip right over it, and assume the part of the show you're missing isn't important.

      Alternately, the really empowering part of DVRs is that you aren't tied to the airing of a show during the time of day that you're home... The pop-ups on the fir

  • The first chooser of what we see is the Product. Shows are effectively chosen by the sponsors of a product and their choice of an audience that can be influenced to buy their product. Think about the number of "undifferentiated products" that are advertised on TV and you get some clue as to why the shows are all pretty dumb. We get to see a majority of shows that are there to attract folk who will be influenced to buy a product based on its jingle or the handsomeness of its spokesman. One of my pet peev
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Xemu ( 50595 )
      I think that the subscription series is the next step.

      There are at least two kinds of TV with completely different models for revenue. One of them is where the content, the show, is the "product" to be sold. It will be well suited to adapt to pay-per-view internet channels. The other way is where the "product" is the viewer herself. The TV channel is essentially using the TV shows as bait to lure enough eyeballs to the TV so they can sell these viewers to advertising. American broadcast TV is for the mos
      • by KaiUno ( 1110525 )
        That would explain the weird open-ending they had! Now we have to buy a car to see if he gets shot? I also think (and hope) subscription series will be the next big thing. I'm a Joss Whedon fan. His last creation, as we all know, got axed before it found an audience. This has burned Joss to the tv-media and it's unlikely he'll return to it. Unless he could just get his works out straight to dvd, sent via the post or just via a subscription to download the stuff online. You just know he's open to that, cons
  • Yeah, yeah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nagora ( 177841 ) on Saturday June 16, 2007 @08:15AM (#19531135)
    Wake me up when the ISPs actually have the bandwidth to do this without kicking me for downloading a day's worth of broadcast quality programming. Sometime arount 2015 should do.


    • by Rolgar ( 556636 )
      I think Google is wanting to host content near the user, so the ISP won't have to pay to connect to other networks, which will make this nearly free for them. I think Apple's TV is going to do something similar by P2P with other TVs on the ISPs network, and share with a minimum amount amount of transfer across other networks, making this nearly free to support to the ISP since they've own their own network. This would mean that 2-5 copies of a program could be downloaded to a particular network, then all
    • I don't think that broadcast TV is over. The radio was supposed to kill the newspaper, TV was supposed to kill radio, and the Internet was supposed to kill everything else, and personal audio players was supposed to kill radio too. The problem is that all four media types are still around, even though the first three are down a little, I think that's happened several times when a new media entered the public consciousness. Other than in the case of gimmicks, I don't think the succeeding medium had comple
    • Wake me up when the ISPs actually have the bandwidth to do this without kicking me for downloading a day's worth of broadcast quality programming.

      From the very beginning of cable internet access and DSL, the ISPs have had FAR more than enough bandwidth to provide all the video you could want. What they don't have, however, is a big enough internet pipe to handle unicasting it all.

      There are a couple solutions. The most obvious transition is simple multicasting. Have dozens of TV streams coming over the in

  • Do you think they've been collecting ratings all this time so they don't use them to make decisions, and now suddenly they've realized that they can use them in this way?
  • With such things as Apple TV, You Tube and Democracy, advertisers are already finding a workable ad model. Sure, soon enough users will be pummeled with ads, if they aren't already, but compared to millions of dollars per minute for SuperBowl advertisements - alreadty, online channels reach more for very, very less and I don't see relative costs climbing to the same levels enjoyed by traditional TV any time soon.
  • Watching a movie in a 650x480 window isn't fun for me. I don't have a big screen taking up my entire family room but it is HD. Same with music. MP3 even at 256 kbps sound terrible. My stereo isn't top of the line but it does play 24 bit DVD audio.
    • 650x480 is the same resolution as Broadcast NTSC (640x480). It's also the same size as DVD-video displayed at a 4:3 aspect ratio.
  • I use freevo now to watch misc youtube stuff or my iPod Video as well as watch DVD's. . If I see a cool show from TV/Cable I will get it from iTunes or perhaps XBOX 360. With the exception of Monsters HD and The Kung-Fu Channel HD I really stopped watching the Dish and $70.00 a month is nuts for two channels. I wish I could just order those two channels, but apparently not so I just canceled the thing. One thing I sort of wish for is a good ebook reader to exist.You have to be a little hardcore to get the
    • I use an axim x51v pda to read ebooks, and it does a fine job. The screen's pretty high quality, though it's always going to take an adjustment time to get used to reading from something like it. Just like staring at ink on white paper was annoying when you were a kid. After a couple weeks with the PDA's screen, it was no different than reading a paper book. There's some nice programs for it to handle pdf and chm (adobe reader sucks for ebooks on it), and mobipocket or windows reader do a great job for lit,
  • Until they learn what I like to watch and start automatically searching and recording it for me I'm not going to bother with them. My Tivo used to do that... Hell, even my email learns what I like to read.

    With the amount of utter crap on TV and dozens of channels, it's an essential feature.

  • It may be the death of expensive cable/satellite services, but free over-the-air ATSC broadcast is the best picture quality you can get in the US right now.

    I just bought a rooftop TV antenna and I know many other people who are doing the same. I'd cancel my satellite service if there were an easy and convenient online way to watch the 3 cable channels I'm interested in at a decent resolution.
  • Granted, I didn't RTFA, but does this new change in advertising paradigm increase the value and price of live events to which people aren't going to settle for watching it time shifted.

    An example--the SuperBowl. Always considered the grand daddy of advertising costs. People aren't going to watch it 'later', so will the prices for ads during this program jump?

    Other examples are shows to which people are going to want to watch immediately or be left out of the 'water cooler convesations'. Granted the Sopra
  • by cardpuncher ( 713057 ) on Saturday June 16, 2007 @11:23AM (#19532161)
    This is not just a PVR phenomenon - people who would have watched TV in the past have other media to divert them. This in turn drives down advertising revenues, reduces programming quality and further reduces audiences. It's just starker if the audience you have isn't watching the advertising anyway.

    So guess what's coming...

    Content Protection and Copy Management (documents [dvb.org], EFF critique [eff.org]) a sort of super-DRM that applies not only to a single TV receiver, but pervades every device to which the protected content might be copied. Although there are reassuring words about this regime only applying to "premium" content, all the mechanisms are there to disable recording, restrict the number of devices having access to the content simultaneously and cause the content to evaporate after a certain period of time. So the broadcasters are clearly thinking about how to preserve their income stream.

    Of course, we shouldn't be surprised, even public broadcasters are getting addicted to rights-management. Although you can make a perfectly good permanent copy of an off-air MPEG programme stream from any BBC broadcast, if you're part of the BBC's iPlayer pilot you donate your Internent bandwidth to their P2P service and in return receive a Windows Media file of the same programme at one quarter of the resolution which self-destructs 7 days after you first play it. It's not quite clear who this is protecting now, but it's not a great leap to suggest that unencumbered recording is now seen as an historic error by the controlling suits.

    Of course, if you want TV programmes in their traditional sense, they have to be paid for somehow. The BBC, despite their current DRM frenzy, are guaranteed an income from the TV licence fee (or at least until the government decides otherwise). Advertising revenue is, though, inexorably dropping. In the UK the rules for commercial broadcasters were relaxed to permit sponsorship and, in future, product placement, but that's not going to make a huge difference to lower-profile content. There's also been a major scandal over the use of premium-rate phone lines which have been used to supplement the income stream of a wide range of programmes under the flimsy pretext of "interactivity". So the advertising model may well be doomed.

    There are payment models which continue to work: pay per view (the traditional cinema model), subscription (eg cable, satellite) and the reviled but suprisingly resilient TV licence. If advertising-supported TV no longer makes economic sense, it might mean the end of broadcast TV as it's know in the USA, but it's not necessarily the end of broadcast TV in countries which have other ways of funding free-to-air television.

    I suspect that applying DRM to try to shore up a declining industry is more likely to kill it off quickly, though!

  • yet.

    Live sport.

    Movies, shows, news, whatever - people love to be able to watch on demand, when they've got time.

    However, live sport can't be done 'on demand'. People can, and will, go out of their way to watch a game as it's happening. Unlike a movie, it's NOT the same if you tape it and watch it later, no matter if you can skip the ads.

    Live sport will keep my TV in use for a long time yet.
    • by Spad ( 470073 )
      Well obviously live TV can't be "on demand", but that doesn't mean it can't be on the web. During the last soccer World Cup, the BBC showed *all* of the matches it had broadcast rights for live on their website, which means you can watch it pretty much anywhere, if not anytime.
    • You apprently are not a subscriber to http://www.mlb.com [mlb.com]...live sport on the web...

      TV as a separate device is obsolete. All displays are now computer displays and the network really is the computer.

    • You can't "on demand" live sport - you can delay it by DVR'ing the program.

      I do it all the time with racing program - it's fantastic.

      Years ago, when I thought I really want to be in media, an old timer told me the only reason for programming (e.g. TV shows, music on radio...) was to keep the commercials from running into each other.

      Yet, when 9 to 11 minutes out of 30 is dedicated to commercials and another one or two minutes is promos, I'm REALLY glad much of my viewing is delayed using a DVR.
  • I Pray to the FCC every night that they will finally drop the hammer on God hating communist unpatriotic Americans who zap through our God given commercials. I really want our overlords to begin arresting people for turning off their television sets. Please please please reeducate us.
  • Now that we're in control, I hereby abolish all DRM!
  • I would not be surprised to see TV eventually shift back to advertising techniques used before the networks figured out that the vast majority would actually tollerate being bombarded by advertisements 5 out of every 15 minutes. PBS has done this for years, but I can very easily see programs being sponsored by one major company. Saturday morning cartoons are largely doing this already basing their shows on toys and game, can "Subway presents: Simple Life (because you need a sammich)" be far behind? Adver
  • this is probably why the good shows get cancelled mid-season.

    I wish I had the capital to start my own television network.

    I would become profitable within 1 year.

    My network would be called TIN "The intelligence network"

    I would only air smart television.

    My advertisers would be offered 3 minute spots for professionally shot mini-movie adverts.

    3 minute-spot would be $6 million.

    There are only so many of them.
  • Subject (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Legion303 ( 97901 ) on Saturday June 16, 2007 @12:57PM (#19533071) Homepage
    "wherein viewers now shape the way that networks make money"

    That's funny, because I could have sworn the SEVERE STORM WARNING which started crawling during Jeopardy the other day indicated that the network cared more about their advertisers than their viewers. I'm not sure what gave me that impression, but it may have had something to do with the fact that the crawler disappeared when the commercials came on (after having displayed no information past "SEVERE STORM WARNING IN EFFECT FOR THE FOLLOWING--") and reappeared as soon as the commercials were over. But that's just crazy, right? Surely the networks care more about informing their viewers about potentially hazardous conditions than they do about offending advertisers, right?

    Pardon me while I have a hearty laugh.
    • by Detritus ( 11846 )
      You might want to file an informal complaint with the FCC. They take that sort of thing seriously.
    • by Apu ( 325126 )
      Any chance you were watching Jeopardy via a third-party? For example, the cable company will often replace the original commercials with their own. The TV station could have kept the crawler going and the cable company just replacing everything (audio & video) with their own content, programatically.
    • That show is syndicated meaning it was purchased by the station and did not come from the network. Your complaint should lie with your local tv station.
    • if it was the network, it would be for new york counties and cities, and they'd have a local weather "icon" bouncing up and down and shaking his fists in the corner of the screen.

      if it were LA, they'd have live helicopter shots of low-flying Toyotas and houses sliding down hills.

      but it wasn't, so it was your local network-affiliate station.
  • If the ads don't get the eyeballs where they are (because of DVR's) won't the advertisers just negotiate to get the ads hidden in the shows (where the eyeballs are)? IMO, this is just another volley in the constant struggle of push vs. pull content. Business feels that they should be able to spend money to force promotional content to viewers; relying on psychology to drive sales rather than merit. The irony is that people that buy the product pay the penalty because the cost is incorporated into the goods.
  • Free TV costs money, and every time you buy an advertised item, you pay.
    I do not watch Free TV any more because I hate the frequent program interruptions, and I don't want to expose my mind to this ad garbage, my brain after forty years still contains ad slogans I picked up in my childhood.

    Because I do not watch TV, I would like to avoid paying for it, but it is practically impossible.

    And because I pay for it I feel somehow entitled to view any movie or TV series ever broadcast on ad-supported TV, no matter
  • I cannot stand most ads. They are anywhere from 16 to 20 minutes per show. Smallville on the CW regularly has ads up to 20 minutes and a few seconds! That's less than 40 minutes of showtime! However, I'm also impatient and don't like waiting until the end of summer for the previous seasons to be available on DVD. Additionally, it's only SDTV, not HDTV on the DVDs. (Yes, HD does present a much better picture than SD.)

    To get around this, I use both DVico's and MyHD PCI HD cards to record all of the sh
  • by SlappyBastard ( 961143 ) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @02:02AM (#19538451) Homepage
    How many years has the music industry had to get its act together under pressure from tech? The movie business hasn't done much better, they just have a better product that's also harder to DL. Major industries in America have an impressive inertia. Even as markets are lost and advertising goes completely haywire, watch the TV industry desperately cling to outmoded models. Worse, as young viewers become untraceable thanks to DVR and BT, the industry will just blame the trend on an aging population that prefers to watch CBS.
  • In 10 years, internet television is the major content source in the world. While projects like FreeVo [sourceforge.net] and MythTV [mythtv.org] provide open DVR functionality, I think the future of television lies more in projects like Democracy [getdemocracy.com] (although it's a desktop app) and ToxTox [toxtox.tv], which aims to be an open internet television "browser". Just like Firefox did, I hope projects like these will open up the walled gardens of settop boxes.

Karl's version of Parkinson's Law: Work expands to exceed the time alloted it.