And it needs fixing now. For entirely too long, the broadcast television stations have been allowed to rule the roost. They have been able to demand the technology that they use and have somehow managed to stymie advances in their fields. “It’s not cost effective” they might say. In fact, it took an act of Congress to make them broadcast in a digital signal. An act of Congress!
That’s only a minor step in the right direction (besides the act of Congress) towards the future of T.V. I don’t know if we really should even call it television any more. It’s an antiquated word. A remnant of a time past. And the future of video entertainment is not justified by the image that the word brings to mind.
The future of television is in broadband distribution. Why the cable/broadcast companies haven’t seen and embraced that is beyond me.
What we need is a better way to distribute the content. Or a better backbone for it in any case. When other countries have 10mbps broadband available just about anywhere, and we still have people using dial up, there has to be something wrong? Where is the demand for the greater service? Where is the innovation? No wonder so much of our technology comes from other countries.
Hell, the big name broadcast networks are still using the damn nielsen ratings to determine the popularity of their shows… I think CBS has about 25 tons of peanuts that will attest to the flaw in doing that anymore. (btw. Jericho is my favorite show at the moment. If you’re a Nielsen family, I’d appreciate you tuning in.)
Enough ranting. Let me tell you how I would fix it if I were the networks. The first thing to realize is the old way is broken. The networks need to push broadband upgrades nationwide. We need to see 10mbps available everywhere. 5mbps as a standard. Right now, most people are lucky if they have a 128kbps connection. You can’t do streaming video or any large downloads over a 128kbps connection. That’s what I call a bottleneck.
Once we get broadband connections headed in the right direction, it’s time to look very closely at our delivery. Distributing the shows in the way that we do right now is broken. People have DVRs and have you heard about that site called thepiratebay? I hear you can download shows directly from that. 😉 Let’s get the cable companies that distribute our shows to put in a few mainframes that will allow them to let our customers record, save, rewatch our shows anytime they want without having to have a DVR in their house. Let’s put our shows up for download on our website. After all, why go through the trouble of pirating something you can get for free? While we’re at it, let’s push for an ala carte cable system. Let’s let the customer order a 10 channel package and let them pick the channels. Distribution costs go down, and the people watching our shows are interested in them. How do we know that? Because they chose the channel. Would you choose a channel where you weren’t interested in the shows?
Now that we have a streamlined distribution system and viewers who actually want to watch our channels lets work on our ratings system. First and foremost, Nielsen is out. Sorry, the system has never worked all that well in the first place and it’s truly broken now. Don’t panic, the world isn’t going to come to an end just because Nielsen isn’t going to be telling us how many people watched that informercial at 1 am last night. We already have a pretty good idea of how many people are watching our shows. (remember, we have ala carte programming, so we can count our subscribers and actually get a rough estimate of our viewership.) Further, we have DVR mainframes that we can pull numbers from. If we want to know the die hards of our viewership, let’s pull the number of households that saved that show last night. Add to those numbers the number of downloads from the website. Now our metrics are at least as good as the Nielsen ratings. But we can do better than that. Remember how we pushed for fast broadband? Remember how we moved to digital signals? Let’s take advantage of that. Let’s set up those mainframes we put in the cable companies to download the shows and stream them to the subscribers. Think along the lines of a live webcam. (but without the XXX implications. What? I know you were thinking it.) We can count the connections to the stream. You want accurate numbers? We’ll be able to have an exact count of how many households are watching the show. Live. When Ms. Jackson exposes herself at the SuperBowl halftime show, we can watch as the viewership drops. (or soars. Depends on how quickly the men in the area hit rewind and play… )
Now we have a broadband backbone capable of handling our content, a streamlined distribution system, and the most accurate metrics that we’ve ever had. We just need to work on getting some good shows on the air. I can’t help you with that though. Maybe you should start looking for some better writers. I hear there are a couple of thousands monkeys with keyboards somewhere in upstate New York that might be able to help you with that.