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Video iPod: The Killer App That May Kill Network TV



Forget all that stuff you're reading about Google or Yahoo taking over the world's media industry (I'll explain in a later post why they won't kill off newspapers or TV news).

In true attention-getting fashion, Apple on Wednesday unveiled the next revolution that will change network TV: the video iPod.

And it's not because legions of people will plunk down $299 to play TV shows on a 2.5-inch screen (I'm predicting that phase of this revolution will quickly become the province of fashionistas and teenagers, like changeable cell phone skins).

It's because Apple has teamed with ABC and Disney to provide downloadable episodes of recently-aired hit TV shows like Lost and Desperate Housewives; pulling the dinosaur that is network TV broadcasting closer to the on demand future that is its destiny.

This is something I've written about before: In a media universe where more and more consumers demand content they are specifically interested in when they want to consume it, the old-school system of making money by drawing a crowd is dying a slow, painful death.

Instead, viewers will increasingly demand the ability to see shows when they want. You can sense the frustration around the watercooler when TiVo-less fans miss their fave episode; a trend that will only escalate as new shows rip off the formula of dense, serialized storytelling that kept viewers watching Lost and DH throughout last season.

Some big questions remain. ABC managed to stick a profitmaking toe in this water with its Apple deal, but it can't possibly be making money by charging $1.99 per episode. Will there be commercials on these downloadable episodes? Will viewers be able to fast forward past them? How will other networks get involved? What happens to local stations, who may see their ratings fall as fans catch Desperate Housewives on their PC instead of their TV?

And who will pioneer the technology allowing fans to watch those downloadable episodes on an actual TV screen? (Bright House and other cable TV companies, you may hear opportunity knocking)

Personally, I'm just wondering how many iPod fans are pissed off because they spent $250 on a glitzy new Nano weeks before Apple would make their cool new device mostly obsolete.

What do you think?

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:34pm]


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