Via Dave Winer, Jeff Jarvis has penned a commentary on Disney's announcement that it will be making some of ABC's television programs viewable over the Internet. Wrote Jarvis:
TV has finally exploded. And if other media — newspapers, magazines, and even online companies — don’t watch out, they may lose the broadband internet to TV companies....What this really means: TV is grabbing a share of online advertising by redefining TV as both broadcast and broadband. Advertisers have always been more comfortable spending big money on TV. Now they can continue to spend their money with those familiar players and get broadband, too.
Jarvis finds the sense in the move. But is Disney still behind the times? As best I can tell from what's available (and I could be wrong), you'll need to be connected to the Internet to view any programming. In other words, the programs are not downloadable the way, say, podcasts are so you can (a) take the content on the run and (b) really view the content whenever you want to. Not only that, in whatever client environment it uses (my guess is Flash), Disney is going to offer interactivity (eg: chat) with other viewers that happen to be on line at the same time but disallow fast forwarding through commercials. Sounds like Webcasting to me. We do it here at ZDNet. All the major news networks do it.
Interesting news, but no thanks. Real timeshifting doesn't put an unreliable medium with unpredictable quality of service between me and access to the content I want. For $5 per month more over the cost of a plain cable box, my TiVo-like digital video recorder timeshift any broadcast content (not just the smattering of shows that Disney decides I can) and I can blast through commercials (by the way, with DRM technologies -- aka C.R.A.P. (or, see CRAP, the movie!) -- they're about to disable that). Worse for ABC and other networks that attempt to follow suit, the digerati will lead the way. Over the weekend, my son and his friend were watching a TV program on the friends video iPod. They were blasting through the commercials. "Where did you download that from?" I asked (expecting the answer to be the iTunes Music Store). Answer? Limewire. Uh oh.
I disagree with Jarvis. The goal here for new and traditional broadcasters isn't to figure out how to take advantage of old technology (Webcasting) to basically preserve the old model. They need to get ahead of the podcasting revolution by figuring out how to survive in a completely mobile and timeshifted world because that's where the gravity of time (our most valuable asset) will lead most people (many are already there).
Finally, this sort of offering isn't exactly complimentary to the services that your local cable network and DSL providers had in mind. Since they have a duopoly over Internet service provision to your home or business and since Congress said last week that they can do as they please in terms of restricting what flows over those pipes (putting the ixnay on Net neutrality), I can't help but wonder if Disney and others will have to pay a premium in order to drive their content across those off-ramps (into your computers).