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IP TV becoming reality

Apple iTunes online music video storeThese days, people are spending as much time in front of a computer as a television, and in some cases, er, places, even more. The television networks out there have honed in on this, and in these online times, it is no longer optional to embrace the Internet as a broadcast alternative – it is fast becoming a new reality.If someone approached me about investing in a television broadcast infrastructure I would be very nervous about building something new from the ground up. I think the current television networks out there are going to be looking at the Internet more and more vigorously in the new next few years. As high-speed broadband Internet access continues to be rolled out, it won’t be long before IP based television is something that is commonplace.

Television as we know it may soon be all on demand and the idea of a schedule may cease to exist. After all, we can only watch one programme at a time so why then do we need a schedule. We would rather have a menu (like in a restaurant) that we can chose what we want, rather than have a set instalment every day (like in an office canteen).

But enough with this detour into future infrastructures, let’s have a look at what is happening at the present with respect to some of the most popular television shows. These days a lot of top rated shows are available for download from the iTunes online store – you can buy the latest episodes of Lost, for example, for around 2 dollars.

My young footskating friend Thomas Ferreira is doing this all the time, and he is not alone. The newest generation of techno savvy consumer is getting their TV content from the Net just as much as from the airwaves. And speaking of the footskaters, check out what they have been up to by going to at


Where were we? Oh yes, content is king. Take the hit show Desperate Housewives. The Disney Corporation, which produces this show, recently announced that is was putting the show online for free. Now Toyota, for example, spends millions to advertise on this TV show. They would not be happy if eyeballs were going to be lost from the airwaves to the Net. Toyota could have pulled the plug on its Disney deal but instead it rolled out a host of new ads for the online version of the show. Its thinking is that the online viewers are more likely to be die-hard fans.

The entertainment world is changing and with it there is a shift evident in the way advertisers will spend their money. Some production companies are even making programmes exclusively for the Web, which represents a fascinating new world. The Internet may become the premier channel.

A couple of weeks ago we discussed a possible change in AOL’s business model: to do away with the subscription cost and capitalize on the revenue that a big group of eyeballs are worth. IP TV is gonna be all about eyeballs and I would keep my eye on sites such as MySpace, AOL (if it gets its strategy right) and the like. IP TV is coming soon – to a PC near you.

  • Ronnie Apteker is one of the founders of Internet Solutions, the country’s largest corporate Internet service provider. He is also a movie producer, an author of two books and sometimes a stand up comedian.



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The Big Change is a business strategy blog and newsletter published by Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx, a leading technology research organisation based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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