With so many different digital mediums available to us at the moment, it was only a matter of time before someone began to merge and combine two of them together. It already happened with mobile phones and online social media, as the popularity of iPhones demonstrates to us. Then there is the Internet and television – two different mediums; one you use for all of your communication and information needs, the other is maybe more for entertainment use – something to sit down in front of after a long hard day, allowing you to mentally ‘switch off’. Yet considering how much time in a day we tend to spend in front of a computer nowadays, it’s no surprise that online gurus are taking advantage of the popularity of television and have created Internet websites that allow you to choose which TV show or program you want to watch – on demand.
What’s the deal?
mi tv 5x In 2006, a new episode of the TV series Lost was aired online – around 11 million viewers it. Also in 2006, market analysts Jupiter Research reported that around 11 per cent of computer users regularly watch videos on the internet. A year later, this figure had jumped to 28 per cent, and it kept on jumping as each year went by – presumably due a lot to YouTube and its easy accessibility and free videos. Yet even the websites that are charging for their TV shows to be viewed are increasing in popularity as more people spend more time online.
In terms of cost, almost all online television is free, using the traditional concept of advertisements and banner ads to make their money. The US ABC recently announced they will make their shows available to view online the day after they have aired on television, for free. The only catch is that the commercials scattered amongst the shows will be unable to be paused. These commercials will also be limited in number – probably only three, being one minute in length each – and will be all from the same advertiser, no doubt maximizing their effect on the audience watching. You can see how this idea is increasingly appealing to businesses that can afford this type of major bulk advertising.
The buzz of 2010: Social TV
But the development hasn’t stopped there. ‘Social television’ is the newest kid on the block, merging the concept of online television with the online phenomenon that is social media. In a nutshell, it’s TV services that involve viewers’ communication. We can now watch our favourite television programs online, whilst interacting with others doing the same – making recommendations, critiquing, chatting, and blogging with each other. It’s adding one more thing to the long list of ‘togetherness’ that the Internet is creating. Obviously we have always ‘socialized’ around the concept of TV, even with the simplest form of discussing shows with friends – but the new idea here is television will now be an active practice rather than a passive one. You can comment on shows, review your favourites – basically interact with the world around you whilst enjoying your TV experience. And in a world that seems to be enjoying online and social media with gusto, this would appear to be a concept that is ready to take off.
WineLibrary TV is a great example of how internet television can assist in boosting a business brand – or even be the entire brand in itself. Gary Vaynerchuk took his multi-million wine selling business to the online world as a way of educating his viewers about wine in a ‘non-stuffy’ way. Such a hit, WLTV has become a cult favourite, with self-named ‘Vayniacs’ interacting regularly with each other on its online forums. They even organize offline group gatherings in the tradition of die-hard fan clubs. This is social television at its best – viewers have found something they are interested in, can view and learn about it online, and participate in interactive communities.