Future of Video Distribution, One Day Later

Peter Burrows

Well, it is less than a day later and there's big news on the topic I wrote about yesterday: the possibility that the Internet could become many people's primary platform for watching video entertainment. First, there's the news of a Yahoo-Tivo partnership. While it will start off fairly slowly, it's clear where this would logically lead: to Yahoo delivering TV programming, just like a cable company, direct to TVs equipped with both a Net connection and a Tivo box (It's interesting to think what this would mean for Yahoo's partnership with SBC, which is also developing its own IPTV service that would include a set-top box of its own).

Then there's other big news of the day, that NBC plans to make some of its TV shows available via DirecTV for $.99 per episode (price sound familiar?). What's this got to do with the content providers selling direct to customers via the Net? Nothing at the moment. But it's more evidence that content is starting to flow right past traditional boundaries. Rather than just come on at 9:00 on Sunday evening on the local ABC afiliate, Desparate Housewives has already been made available via iTunes. One day it may also be sold to phone companies with big IPTV dreams, to cellular carriers, or maybe from Disney's own site. When that happens, it will be up to the consumers to choose who to buy it from--and I imagine Disney could market its shows as well as anyone.

Of course, as Tom Lowry points out in his story in the magazine this week, these massive changes will take years. But if news keeps coming at this pace, maybe not that many years...

    Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.