Internet video is going to take over the world. We want unlimited choice. We want user generated content. We want our TV shows streamed to us. Give us the long tail. Please.
Because we want all of this magnificent video, we want, no we need to be able to hook up our computers to our brand new HDTVs. Of course its not that easy for non techies to get the internet video from the net, through your PC or router to your TV. But thats what we want.
Its exactly why Apple and others are coming out with product after product that transports that magical 100mbs of Youtube, AOL, Revver, Yahoo or whoever’s video from your PC to your TV.
So the contrarian in me asked the question: “Should we look at taking the video in the other direction? “. Should we be sourcing video from traditional TV delivery options. Can user generated content be uploaded to cable or satellite companies and then delivered as regular TV to be played back from a settop box or DVR.
Your DVR, whether you know it or not is a PC. It has a hard drive that is probably as big as the hard drive in your PC. The one huge difference between your PC and your DVR is that the DVR has a user interface that is optimized to sort, select and display video content on your TV. In other words, dozens of companies are trying to create add on devices that will somehow make your PC act more like a DVR.
So why not just use the DVR ?
There is absolutely no reason why you couldnt subscribe from your DVR to a CBS “User Generated Content” feed that has the same content as what they offer to their Youtube Subscribers. The difference of course being its in TV or HDTV quality. The content would be delivered through your cable or satellite provider. There is no limit to the number of content providers , large or small that could offer subscriptions.
What about pure user generated content ? What about people’s cat, kids and response videos ? Simple.
Comcast, DirecTV, Dish, Time Warner, Charter, Insight, Cox, any cable or satellite provider could easily offer a website that allows users to upload content the same way they upload to Youtube. One key difference is that they wouldnt have to limit the length or encoding quality of the content. Youtube and other sites that make their money selling ads around content, have to limit quality and length of video to minimize file sizes, which inturn minimize their bandwidth costs. Bandwidth costs are so expensive at the volumes Youtube streams, many have questioned their ability to cover those costs even with the constraints.
Traditional TV delivery methods however are multicast , as opposed to internet videos unicast approach to video delivery. In English, that means that the cable and satellite companies could take the uploaded videos and push them out to all DVRs of anyone who has subscribed receive those videos in a single stream. internet video requires 1 stream per person per video.
The user side would be incredibly simple.
If you subscribed to all of CBS videos, you get them. If you subscribed to all of NBCs video, you get them. If you subscribed to all of Universal Music’s videos. You get them.
Or you could subscibe to all user uploaded videos that are in the comedy category. Or all user uploaded videos that are in the news category. Or you could subscribe to all the videos uploaded by Mark Cuban, or whoever. Or if your hard drive in your DVR was big enough, you could just subscribe to everything.,
If you subscribe to everything, it would be easy to have software that updated your DVR with just new offerings.
Basically, what would happen is that your DVR would act as your local server and rather than searching for videos on the net, you would search for them on your local DVR.
Of course there are challenges to this approach. It wont be easy to get users who upload things to go to cable and/or satellite sites to upload there instead or in addition to Youtube. So Youtube will probably have more content. This approach works best with content from the major media companies.
Plus there are general advantages to the Youtube approach. One of the cool things about Youtube is that it has so many videos that you can find almost anything. Youtube’s current large inventory of videos would be a big advantage
One key advantage the cable/satellite guys would have is with advertising. Whatever advertising DELIVERY methods Youtube, etc used to sell advertising could easily be implemented on a DVR. Like internet video, delivery of ads from a DVR is easily quantifiable and reportable, but of course the quality of the video and the ability to offer long form click through options (if a user clicked for more information, its easier to deliver a quality 1, 2, 5 minute or longer video thats already hosted on a DVR than it is from the net)
Each approach would have its plus and minuses, but if cable and/or satellite decided to dive into the user generated content businessgiving users a choice, things could get interesting.