For the last three weeks we’ve had some pretty horrendous weather.  First there was Hurricane Sandy, then barely a week later we had a nor’easter with sleet and snow.  It’s been a very difficult time for a lot of people and I hope that by now everything is pretty much back to normal.

This week, I thought about writing another entry about the weather.  Several meaty topics came to mind including the obvious looming threat of global warming, the weather’s impact on the presidential election last week, and the massive fuel shortage in the tri-state area.  But instead, this week I decided to keep it light and write about television.  After all, with all this crappy weather I’ve been spending a lot of time indoors.

Since I live in a no cable household, our television options are pretty limited.  We get NBC, ABC and TBS through a non-subscribed cable line (it seems that Time Warner was unsuccessful in blocking these broadcast channels from reaching our home) and we also watch Internet TV through our Roku box.  Occasionally we’ll watch a show live if we happen to be home when it’s on, but most of the time we prefer to watch the Roku.

Sitting down on the couch with some hot tea and a blanket, my girlfriend and I had a TV date this past Friday.  We were all settled in to enjoy the evening when we made a disappointing discovery: a few of our favorite shows were listed on Hulu as “Web Only.”  This was initially very confusing to me, because we were trying to watch these shows on the “web” – I mean, how else would we be watching Hulu, if it weren’t through the “web”?  Soon we realized that “web only” meant that these shows could only be watched on a computer, not on a TV, nor on an iPad.

How silly is that?  As far as I’m concerned, the computer, the iPad, and the TV are all just different sized screens that should have equal access to content on the internet.

This isn’t the first time I’ve felt this way.  I still remember the first time I saw the Nielsen “Three Screens Report,” referring to the TV, the computer and mobile phones as the “three screens” available to consumers.  At the time, I was working at an advertising agency and I remember thinking that it was ridiculous.  Dividing the world up into neatly separated media “channels” is the work of delusional marketers desperately trying to preserve the world of media as it existed in the 1980’s.  At some point everyone will realize that the development of the internet and digital connectivity was not a continuous innovation that simply added more media channels; rather it was a total upheaval in the way consumers view, engage with, and create content.  In many ways it set in motion a chain reaction that will eventually abolish the notion of a “media channel” altogether. Soon there will be only Internet, content, and different sized screens.

Maybe then, we’ll be able to watch 30 Rock and The Voice on our internet TV.

“Web Only”
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  • > At some point everyone will realize that the development of the internet and digital connectivity was not a continuous innovation that simply added more media channels; rather it was a total upheaval in the way consumers view, engage with, and create content.

    I’m not sure I really agree with that.

    So, Hulu has some shows as web-only because the content partner extends and withdraws streaming clearences.

    They do this for a simple reason: they’re trying to maximize revenue generated across different channels. Ultimately, this will always occur.

    That is: some channels / delivery systems will have different monetization characteristics across time. The rights holder will maximize total revenue, not net accessibility to the public – and, in fact, manipulating availablity across different zones / segments / whatever may allow them to generate higher total returns.

    You may not be dividing across “media channels”; but you may be dividing across geographic zones or other customer demographics.

  • Dadio

    Gotta love that MG! We had an MG TC that my brothers restored and ultimately sold. To this day, the one has never forgiven the other for that outrage. However, he also has never forgiven the banking industry for the first savings and loan crisis that wiped out his savings from his paper route, or some source. I never had savings until the Clinton administration and so avoided losing any money. What does this have to do with media and streaming? Nothing or everything. I do love MG.

  • Andrew

    Michael,
    I like your points. It seems that the desire to make money right now sometimes impedes the development of technology. I guess it works the other way too – where the desire to avoid losing money impedes development as well (such as the case with farming subsidies).

    Dad,
    I assume your meta-point here is that I should be out restoring old cars rather than watching internet TV because that’s what you and your brothers did when you were my age. Fair enough – I’d love to restore an old car. Kind of hard in the city though.