The Age of Internet Television
By Andrew D. Wright
Television. Of all the influential inventions of the twentieth century,
television has been changed the most by the internet and technology.
At first the internet was a reference source for television. Sites like
the IMDB or Internet Movie DataBase give detailed movie listings,
searchable stars and user comments on films and TV. Other sites such as
Epguides.com produce searchable indexes of TV series episodes.
Then the internet started to become television. And that's when the fun
As information compression got better, high-speed internet access became
more widespread and data storage costs dropped through the floor, people
suddenly figured out ways to share TV shows with each other.
Television producers were horrified at first. They saw no money from
people swapping their shows on the internet. Then some of the brighter
ones started to see opportunity.
iTunes now sells downloadable episodes of many popular shows the day after
they air for about the same price as the blank discount video tape it
would take to record the program off air.
Internet previews have become popular as well. A TV show might have the
first ten minutes of a new season online for download before the show
airs, as a teaser.
A TV show is no longer just a TV show. It's the show, the stars, the
producers, their blogs, the show website, the DVD extras, the website
extras, the iTunes listing and the fan sites. Plus all the other standard
publicity material for the magazines and news digests.
Some producers of TV shows and movies now are as well known as the actors
alone used to be.
Meanwhile, out in the rest of the world, people have been discovering that
they can make their own television. Digital video puts the creation of new
material in the hands of pretty much anyone, and I do mean anyone while
distribution prices have been slashed thanks to bit-torrent technology and
Bit-torrent programs distribute the download of a large file amongst all
the different people downloading it, greatly speeding up the download
while reducing the bandwidth costs of the original source.
Free hosting sites for video such as YouTube offer small, lower resolution
videos for viewing. The popularity of such sites has exploded and Google,
MSN, and Yahoo all have such video hosting.
Such home brew TV can achieve massive success. YouTube was showing more
than 100 million videos a day in July 2006, which according to them
represents some 60% of the total videos watched online. The sixty person
California company started up in 2005 now receives more than 65,000 new
videos a day to host, each up to only ten minutes long.
The Finnish fan-filmed parody movie Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning
spoofing Star Trek and Babylon 5 became the most popular
Finnish language movie in
history with an estimated four million downloads and an unknowable number
of post-download distributed copies.
Internet Movie DataBase: http://us.imdb.com/
Episode Guides: http://www.epguides.com/
Star Wreck: http://www.starwreck.com/