No content future for ISPs

As internet service providers (ISPs) accept lower margins from access provision, the battle is on to find a sustainable alternative revenue source. But it won't come from content provision.

As internet service providers (ISPs) accept lower margins from access provision, the battle is on to find a sustainable alternative revenue source. But it won't come from content provision.

The only reason ISPs can play the content game right now is because of the geographic restrictions imposed by content producers. FetchTV, for example, is providing Internode and iiNet customers with access to international content, but will this approach survive if people start accessing content direct from the source?

A lot of TV content is available online, but some, like the BBC iPlayer, is blocked for Australian viewers to protect rights agreements. The workaround for the viewer is simple, with a myriad of companies now offering UK and US proxies — so your computer connects with an overseas IP address.

David Gorodyansky, CEO of Anchor Free, says his company's proxy service has more than 8 million users each month, and that figure is growing rapidly. Surely the ease of these services and the advent of IP-connected televisions means the notion of geographic controls on content is already very outdated?

Why then is Senator Conroy pushing this week for changes to local content rules for Pay TV? Hasn't he heard that in eight years there will be a National Broadband Network perfectly suited to streaming TV from anywhere in the world?

Electronic Frontiers Australia board member Stephen Collins agrees that ISPs and TV companies seem to be hanging on to old-style business models. The question is, how will they adapt to this new world of anytime, anywhere entertainment.

I also replay part of an interview from 2009 with Robbee Minicola, CEO of Channel 7's Hybrid TV, who argues that ISPs are not media players. While I'd agree with that, I also argue in this edition of Twisted Wire that TV companies are usually not the content producers, meaning their role in the supply chain is equally under threat.

Running time: 24 minutes, 38 seconds

Carousel image credit: Fiber Optic Grass 2 image, by rq, CC BY-SA 2.0