Screen wars: stealing TV’s ‘eyeball’ share
Television, the long-dominant medium, becomes just one of many video outlets.
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• Sony said it will offer a movie and TV show download option for its Playstation videogame console.Skip to next paragraph
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• Amazon, the online retailer, is offering Amazon Video on Demand, which will give users immediate streaming access to 40,000 movies and TV shows. This video is now available only on a computer.
• At least a half-dozen TV manufacturers, including Sony, Hewlett-Packard, and Samsung, have announced they will sell sets that are continuously connected to a broadband Internet network, allowing Web content, including video, to move easily to the biggest screen in the house.
• In March, hulu.com went public. The website streams online free, high-quality video including a growing selection of TV shows and movies.
While these new services get video moving to new screens, none is a complete solution on its own, says the Wharton School’s Mr. Whitehouse. “There are a lot of different companies supporting different file formats,” he says. What you don’t have is the one device that can “get content from all the major services like hulu and Netflix and iTunes.”
There’s a kind of convergence between TV and Internet that’s happening, “but not really a friendly one [for consumers], I think,” says Bobby Tulsiani, an analyst who tracks developments in internet video for JupiterResearch.
TV networks, he says, have a time-tested model for making money through advertising and the fees cable TV companies pay to carry their programming. Online distribution presents potential new revenue sources, but also the danger that viewers will slide online, where profits are more uncertain.
YouTube has popularized video viewing online. But the conventional wisdom has been that people won’t watch anything longer than two or three minutes on a computer screen. That assumption has been proved wrong with the huge popularity of TV series online. “We’ve moved from TV on this biggest screen to TV on this middle screen,” the computer, says Mr. Tulsiani, which he calls “a critical change.” “That’s the fastest-growing segment of who’s watching TV content,” he says.
Nearly 80 million Americans (43 percent of those who go online) have watched a TV show on the Internet, according to a February survey by Solutions Research Group in Toronto. Just a year ago, the figure was 25 percent. Total video viewing will rise from about six hours a day today to a projected eight hours daily by 2013, Solutions forecasts, and fewer than four hours of that will be spent watching conventional TV.