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Twentieth century

For most of the twentieth century, the only ways to watch television were through over-the-air broadcasts and cable signals.Learn more

New technology

New technology can change the way we receive news and entertainment, though.Learn more

Internet TV

Internet TV, in simple terms, is video and audio delivered over an Internet connection.Learn more

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Twentieth century

For most of the twentieth century, the only ways to watch television were through over-the-air broadcasts and cable signals. With broadcast TV, an antenna picks up radio waves to transmit pictures and sound to your television set. With cable TV, wires connect to a set-top box or to your TV itself. These wires run from your house to the nearest cable TV station, which acts as one big antenna. Aside from a few options like satellite TV, broadcast and cable were -- and still are -- the main ways to watch television.

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New technology

New technology can change the way we receive news and entertainment, though.Radio challenged newspapers in the early 1900s, and television challenged radio. Now, it looks as though traditional television has its own competitor, but it's not one that's easily separated from television. It even has television in its name -- it's what we're now calling Internet TV.

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Internet TV

Internet TV, in simple terms, is video and audio delivered over an Internet connection. It's also known as Internet protocol television, or IPTV. You can watch Internet TV on a computer screen, a television screen (through a set-top box) or a mobile device like a cell phone or an iPod.

It's almost the same as getting television through an antenna or a series of cable wires -- the difference is that information is sent over the Internet as data. At the same time, you can find even more variety on Internet TV than cable TV. Along with many of the same shows you find on the big networks, many Web sites offer independently produced programs targeted toward people with specific interests. If you wanted to watch a show on vegetarian cooking, for example, you could probably find it more easily over the Internet than on regular TV.

Because many sites offer on-demand services, you don't have to keep track of scheduling. For sites using webcasting or real-time streaming video, though, live broadcasting is still an option.

Shows can be high-quality, professionally produced material, while others might remind you of Wayne and Garth broadcasting "Wayne's World" from their basement. Traditional TV networks are also easing into the technology and experimenting with different formats.

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Social Connectivity

Right now if you want to interact with your friends while watching TV you need to use a “second screen” app. Twitter is the dominant force in social usage during TV broadcast, and apps like IntoNow and GetGlue are trying via specialized apps. But these are all just experiences for viewer conversation — none are connected to the actual broadcast.

And outside of voting on programs like American Idol, there is very little interactivity directly related to a live broadcast. There is a huge opportunity to have an engaged audience that shares, interacts, and even better, influences the programming in real-time.

When I was President of Global Digital Media at Viacom, we did some studies with our various channels around the world where we experimented with social elements woven into the broadcast programming. (It was 2008 so it was basic stuff like chat, games, voting, picking the next music video, etc.). The time people spent engaged with the program went up as much as 80% depending on the show and application being used. Surprisingly, the effect was most pronounced with reruns!

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Big Data

Broadcast TV relies on data to make many of their decisions. They use Nielsen ratings. They spend millions on consumer research. TV execs know that they must listen to and understand their audience’s tastes. But all of this information is received after a broadcast has happened. And because most of this info comes from outside researchers, the broadcaster does not have a direct connection to the consumer.

The Internet is all about data. And now all the rage is Big Data (i.e., a massive volume of numbers and information that you crunch in new ways to gain insights). It is also all about having a direct connection to your audience. For online businesses, it is mission critical to have a deep knowledge of your audience.

The real-time nature of live broadcast makes data even more interesting — and important. You can tweak what ads appear as a show runs. You can make rapid decisions about programming schedules. And if your programming is not a pre-recorded show, but has a host and/or guests live on camera, the real-time audience data may tell you to change what it is being presented in order to attract a larger and more engaged audience – right now.

Broadcasting TV online suddenly changes your business from evaluating old information to make decisions to seeing real-time data to with real-time implications for improving the consumer experience right away.

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New Business Models

TV broadcasters rely on the fees they get from subscribers (via the cable operators) and advertising to make money.

It has certainly been a big business but it is eroding quickly — see cord-cutting, cord-nevers, unbundling, YouTube, etc

If their channels were online, they would instantly expand their reach to the entire world (dependent on content restrictions) and reach an exponentially larger audience. They would also directly control their broadcast (no cable operator) and could have a bouquet of offerings like a free live stream, a subscription for premium features, and video on-demand.

And with all that real-time data, broadcasters and their advertisers could sell goods directly to consumers via e-commerce. And of course, they would still have traditional in-broadcast advertising, but it would much smarter and therefore much more valuable advertising.

Online video has made impressive strides in recent years. The threat to broadcast TV is coming from some interesting places, many of which are (unsurprisingly) outside of the traditional industry. One is the emergence of multi-channel networks like Maker Studios and Full Screen. They are rapidly going from being just YouTube channels to having their own presence and identity.

However, even these companies do not offer a 24/7 live stream (though Diddy's new effort, Revolt.tv, will do exactly that). Broadcast TV could jump ahead of them – immediately.

At creativeLIVE we are certainly doing our part to push the vision of live TV forward (by the way, the photo below is from one of our classes in action). We are live broadcasting educational content for 7 hours every day (between 9am and 4pm Pacific time). Our live broadcasts are social and interactive via chat, Twitter and Facebook integration into the class. They are global with over 190 countries having tuned into past classes. And they are free when it is live and you only need to pay if you want to own a copy of the class. Believe me, we are all about data to make the experience better.

I can tell you that a few broadcast execs have asked me what we are doing. They partly think we are crazy to have something akin to a live reality program on all day long (it is hard and risky). But they are also impressed that we are doing this with education. We are making education entertaining by having it live streamed and look like broadcast TV.

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