There will no doubt be a lot of talk next week about the Internet’s potential to replace conventional television delivery methods – cable, satellite and now telco – with IP-generated content. Advocates – anyone younger than this writer, apparently – believe that there’s no need for anything more than some kind of IP address to enjoy television. Of course, some of these advocates think Jackass was Oscar-worthy filmmaking.

Anyway, someone who makes a living watching the television space believes that the Internet is not the TV grim reaper.

"There are millions of people who are looking at video on the Internet," said Bob Larribeau, principal analyst of TelecomView, a company that provides strategic analysis of the telecommunications industry. "The Internet has proved itself as an effective way to distribute content, and it’s also becoming a way that a lot of people can generate content at little cost and get distribution for it without having to fight through major studios."

Hardly sounds like a man whose report, “The Battle for Broadband TV: TelcoTV versus Internet TV," comes down squarely on the side of traditional TV vs. the new Internet model. Internet not uber alles "There’s some discussion that the Internet will take over the TV just the way it’s taken over everything else in life. My premise really is that that’s not likely to happen, and, in fact, the telcos (and cable TV, of course) have a chokehold over the access networks and really will limit what can be done by these Internet providers."

Besides, he said, "most of the broadband Internet services don’t offer enough bandwidth to support multiple TVs or to support HD."

HD – the quality of the picture, not necessarily the content – is a driving factor that will keep telcos and cable and satellite floating above the flotsam and jetsam being tossed out as user-generated content on the Internet. It’s not necessarily that the traditional broadcasters are that much better – just more professional, which says something about the amateurish quality of such ballyhooed experiences as YouTube.

Even the most base of TV’s reality shows like "America’s Favorite Videos … is really professionally produced stuff because they take the raw video and do a lot to enhance it."

As for the Internet, "there’s some cream that’s floating to the top, (but) I don’t know whether the cream is 1 percent deep or 5 percent deep. There is some stuff that’s going to have some broad appeal that’s floating up … that people would like to see on their TV," he said. Look at clouds from both sides now For those who see clouds dark and ominous as opposed to white and fluffy, that same description might have been applied to the early cable industry where new ideas like CNN, The Weather Channel and ESPN floated to the top and forever changed lives for the now-wistful broadcasters. But rather than seeing the Internet as a threat, video providers should see it as a potential ally, he said.

The telcos, with IPTV as their primary way of getting into the video entertainment space, may have a leg up but "need to get on board with that. They don’t quite see how to do it yet, and the Internet TV guys, a lot of them would like to work with the telcos, but they don’t quite know how to do that, either," said Larribeau. "There’s a lot of opportunity for cooperation. The PC will compete with the TV, but the TV has real strengths, and the winners will be the guys who figure how to optimize the position and mold those pieces."

Words to remember when the PCTV people bang their shoes and threaten to bury cable TV this week. – Jim Barthold

The Daily


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