The Future of Streaming Video

by wjw on May 8, 2009

Comic/TV/RPG writer John Rogers has an interesting post about the future of TV over on Kung Fu Monkey.

Now what’s kind of interesting here is that everybody in TV looks at the music industry collapse as the Bad Story and iTunes as the plausible premise for digital entertainment distribution. iTunes makes money. QED, there is money to be made in digital distribution.

But drawing this conclusion ignores one of the fundamental facts about iTunes — it is a de facto monopoly. As Clay Shirky writes quite shinily here, a series of lawsuits and circumstances cut off pretty much all other music distribution channels online. Tying the system in to great hardware was the clincher, of course, accelerating the process. But end of day, if you’re buying a song quickly, easily and legally in the US, you’re buying it from iTunes.

The TV humans are missing the point of this plausible premise — you can make money off digital distribution as long as you have a monopoly. It’s a little shocking that they’re missing this, as the massive financial success of the entire television industry up until recently was based on them having a monopoly. A taxpayer-funded monopoly, no less . . .

Ralf the Dog May 9, 2009 at 4:27 pm

The other factor, the cable companies own the internet. The cable companies don’t want you downloading TV, they want you to watch it on PPV or premium channels.

The cable companies will offer faster and faster network connections, they will not grow the size of the bandwidth caps. “You can download your email as fast as you want.”

Brian Borchers May 10, 2009 at 4:01 am

itunes has a monopoly of the same sort that Microsoft has with windows. It’s not that there are any real barriers to entry (you can download lots of music from Amazon in MP3 format for example.) Instead it’s that the market leader has bamboozled the mass of customers into believing that they’re the only choice in town.

Ralf the Dog May 10, 2009 at 3:52 pm

Brian, I like iTunes. The m4v format can give you a near lossless sound file with a much lower bitrate than a mp3. I can channel music to any room in my house by my Apple TV box or the Airport expresses I use to bridge the internet all the places I don’t have a hard connection.

The studios now let Apple sell DRM free music just like Amazon, they just sell it at a better quality. M4v format also gives you better portability. My car stereo has a port where I can plug in an iPhone or an iPod. Plug an iPod Classic into the under dash port and you have 30,000 songs in your car with near lossless compression.

Apple does need to publish the capitalization rules for their products. How do you start a line with iPhone? IPhone? IpHONE? ARRRGGGHHH! As a recovering profoundly dyslexic, I find capital letters hard enough as it is.

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