Video on Demand, Report II

You may use this content (better still, argue with me!), but please cite my ideas as (c) 2005, Dr. Bruce Klopfenstein.

I'm not sure how non-sports fans will relate to this posting, but I guess you could substitute a passion for any perhaps daily television programming not available in your market but something you really want to see. My Cleveland Indians (and you have to understand I survived the Indians of the late 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and early 1990s) are the hottest team in my favorite sport, baseball, and they are becoming the biggest story in basebal (the Yankees have literally more than five times the money spent on their player salaries than the Indians). I live near Atlanta and so have had maybe 3 or 4 nationally televised games. If you go back, you will see that I reported on my first viewing of mlb.com during a free trial. Well, when the Indians made a believer out of me by late August, I ponyed up to the bar and paid, I believe $14.95 for the remainder of the season for ALL MLB teams through spring training of 2006. Hey, I could have afforded that with my paper route in 5th grade!

mlb.com is offering video-on-demand, albeit limited to one major sports package. While I have focused on the Indians games, they have closed to within striking distance of the Chicago White Sox. So once the Indians beat KC 11-0, the video feed (again, beautiful in its smaller than 300 by 400 pixel window...sorry, it's probably 15% smaller than that), I tuned in the White Sox game. OK, 1-1, so I switch to the NY Yankees who are losing 5-4 in the 8th inning (the Indians trail the White Sox for first place in their division, and lead the Yankees for the "wild card" non-division winning team with the best record in the lead).

I have a few thoughts I want to share. First, yawn, many media wags have referred to TV as "lean back" and PC use as "lean forward." I'm just sitting in my chair, not leaning forward or back. In fact, I have the Indians' post game show on radio while the Yankees game is in a different window for video and audio. I am also multitasking as I write this blog posting.

As a TV viewer, I can tell you I am 100% comfortable with this setup, although I definitely note that this is sports, live programming, and not comparable to prime time viewing with 500 channels. It is, however, 15 channels of baseball. In addition, I can tune in my Indians on any computer, anywhere. I'm not stuck to driving home at breakneck speed to catch a game on "regular" TV. Very nice. If I switch the feed to full screen, it's not broadcast quality (unless I view from, perhaps, 12 feet away or more).

I think program providers that are now dedicating individual channels to simultaneous live broadcasts of whatever's on similar genre programs are really on to something. mlb.com comes relatively close to that by listing all the games in text format. My guess is that by next spring they will have at least recent still photos from each game next to the link to the video feed.

Given a choice, I'd prefer, I'm sure, to watch these games on television, and I'd probably continue to multitask with the PC. Nevertheless, there are 2 truths that will make these possibilities inevitable (yes, I mean inevitable): 1. compression technologies continue to improve (some observers forget this) and 2. bandwidth continues to increase as cost decreases. I guess if I worked as an executive program provider, I'd make up a calendar with this slogan to go right next to the desktop sign "The Buck Stops Here."


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