iVillage: Wag the Dog

In what is being touted in some circles as a new interactive television service, the web site iVillage, which already has copious amounts of video, will be going along with live television a few days from now. iVillage is aimed at women, which means we men can go there and see what they're telling women about us.

Why wag the dog? Because this is content that was web first, "television" second. Most television shows have web sites (in fact, I wonder if there is any current TV show without a web site; I'd be surprised).

"The NBC Universal stations are banding together to produce a daytime series with female-skewing Web site iVillage.com, which NBC Universal acquired for $600 million in March, sources close to the production said.

"The project, called 'iVillage Live,' will be produced by the stations, not their corporate supplier of syndicated product, NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution.

Source: Television Week; 5/15/2006, Vol. 25 Issue 20, p1-34, 2p, 1c

According to Media Week, "If it succeeds, NBCU's plans to launch iVillage Live, the first national multiplatform interactive talk show, could change the business model for daytime TV and reinvigorate the sleepy daypart." MediaWeek; 11/13/2006, Vol. 16 Issue 41, p8.

You may use this content (better still, argue with me!), but please cite my ideas as © 2006, Dr. Bruce Klopfenstein. Find any typos! Don't smite me, let me know!


The Death of DVRs: Long Live the DVR!

Some refer to a DVR as nothing more than a large hard drive in a computer. ReplayTV, a pioneer in the DVR business, is dumping its hardware in favor of software. That is, ReplayTV is saying good-bye to its own DVR and hello to having your computer double-up as a DVR device. The "ReplayTV PC Edition" was supposed to go on sale in September 2006. A lesson to emerging new media students and scholars: the majority of new product announcements are premature. I've written that the reason for this is that it's easy to see the end-state scenario in which the new product is ready for market, but it's difficult to predict what pitfalls there will be on the road to market. Here we have a small example of that. ReplayTV was not ready with its PC Edition until mid-November 2006.

Back to the business at hand, ReplayTV now sells software that can be loaded onto your PC or laptop that will allow you to record television shows without the monthly charges the cable and satellite industry members as well as TiVo charge. Your computer must have a TV tuner to use this software, however, and few people have added this to their PC even though the technology has been around for years. Of course, it's easy to imagine the large electronics chains like Best Buy and Circuit City pushing the TV tuners on new computer customers (after all, it's the add-ons that hold the profit for computers, not the computers themselves.

Source: replaytv.com accessed 28 November 2006. There is a slideshow of ReplayTV's PC version beginning on http://www.replaytv.com/replaytvway.asp as of 28 November 2006.

Well, the image above, courtesy of ReplayTV, shows a concept that hardly looks new, and it does not show a hint of a television program. However, any PC owner with a TV tuner can download the software and try the service for 30 days free. Given the track record of the immediate bond between TV viewer and new DVR, it would seem Replay TV has set itself up quite nicely, although its potential market today is small (the target appears to be college-age young adults living in dorm rooms or small apartments where the PC screen does not need to be very large to "watch TV" on the PC.

And once again we're sliding into the area of debate about "lean forward" (using a computer) versus "lean back" (watching TV) which I have said many times is a false dichotomy. One example would be having perhaps 25% of your screen display showing that sporting event you wanted to see while, multitasker that you are, you are writing that proposal for bringing peace to the Middle East. Marketing gurus love this kind of terminology, but I once again call it bunk.

As for ReplayTV's market, let's see if I can find out how many TV tuner enabled PCs there are out there (and please note that I generally am always limiting myself to the U.S. which is a complex enough market for understanding interactive television).

You may use this content (better still, argue with me!), but please cite my ideas as © 2006, Dr. Bruce Klopfenstein. Find any typos! Don't smite me, let me know!


People starting to watch less TV as online video boom grows, suggests BBC News Website survey

There are still 24 hours in a day, and people are awake around 16 or 17 of them. Individuals may watch around 4 hours of television a day, and they may multitask, for example, by having the TV on while surfing the web for fun, profit, entertainment, enlightenment, well, you get the picture. And speaking of pictures, a new study out from the BBC has found that survey respondents say they are watching more online video and less television. This includes people who use web or cell phone video once a week or more (once a week!). 75% say they are watching more non-broadcast TV today than a year ago (not surprising as more video becomes available and broadband availability continues to increase, prices continue to drop, and a whole lot more video is seen on the web. As I have written elsewhere in this blog, most, if not all, major old media company websites now have video on them with more to come.
It's inevitable and has been since Real Audio first introduced "tin-can" sounding audio on the web years ago.

Now, for the less glamorous findings: online video viewers are still in the minority - just 9% said they did so regularly (remember, this is the BBC and I suspect that computer penetration in British homes is smaller than U.S. homes). Another 13% said they watched occasionally, and 10% more said they expected to start in the coming year. However, two-thirds of the population said they did not watch video online and could not envisage starting in the next 12 months. Online video viewers were still in the minority at the time of the study - just 9% said they did so regularly, 13% said occasionally, and another 10% said they expect to start in the next year. Now, mark my words on this one: these respondents are wrong.

Come back to this posting in late November 2007 and you will see that almost all of those who just said they will not watch video in the coming year, a whopping 67% of the respondents, goofed. I confidently predict that a year from now it will be all but impossible to go to a web site without seeing video. Flash video is amazing, and we know better quality video and better compression methods will be in place in the next 12 months. If nothing else, advertisers will have video on web site home pages. Movie trailors are going to be everywhere.

So the BBC study in great and the BBC's making it available is even greater. But the role of video on the web is going to continue to grow dramatically, especially over the next 12 months. I suspect a similar study in the U.S. would find more folks using video and on a daily basis than in Britain.


ICM interviewed a random sample of 1,008 adults aged 18+
recruited from the ICM online panel between 17 and 19 November 2006 for the BBC.

They also interviewed a random sample of 1,062 people aged 16+ by telephone.
Panellists were recruited from across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults.

You may use this content (better still, argue with me!), but please cite my ideas as © 2006, Dr. Bruce Klopfenstein. Find any typos! Don't smite me, let me know!