IPTV (or Internet Protocol Television) should, in my view, be the next major milestone in social habits and consumer choice. Joost, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, youTube and Vimeo all offer online video (as well as others) but there is still so much potential for media organisations to open up their catalogues of existing material to worldwide audiences and extract value from individual consumer purchases.
Consumers are still generally treated on a regional basis due to media organisations attempts to control their market and resist new entrants (yes, I believe this to be anti-competitive).
I am a Brit living in Germany, and would like, on occasion, to be able to watch UK sport, including Premier league football (actually avalable to me, via Premier a German pay-TV channel, whose name is purely coincidental), but also rugby, cricket, or football from other divisions (below the Premier league). Other than Premier league football, all of these options are not generally available to me in Germany since German TV companies do not (probably quite rightly) believe there is a sufficiently large audience to warrant allocating air time (although even sport ‘dedicated’ channels like DSF fill their night-time slots with low quality programming with no sporting connection, including cash-prize quiz shows). What is particularly crazy about this is that UK internet media organisations (including BBC) stream live and recorded sporting events but limit access to UK viewers only. Think how much they could earn from expats or interested foreigners if they sold the rights for $10 per viewing. Why should viewers be penalised because media companies might choose to acquire rights, but probably won’t …
This is what BBC has to say:
“Rights agreements mean that BBC iPlayer television programmes are only available to users to download or stream (Click to Play) in the UK. However, we are aware of demand for an international version.”
This is what Hulu has to say:
“Hulu is committed to making its content available worldwide. To do so, we must work through a number of legal and business issues, including obtaining international streaming rights. Know that we are working to make this happen and will continue to do so. Given the international background of the Hulu team, we have both a professional and personal interest in bringing Hulu to a global audience.”
A few websites are trying to challenge the status quo, but making slow progress:
These sites show the potential exists, but don’t really get around the rights issue, but simply avoid the problem in the countries where a problem exists.
The only thing traditional media companies are doing is providing web access to the same media that is available via terrestial/cable/satellite TV in the same markets – that is a pathetic effort to solve the problem; nothing more than a gimmic.
Will online companies eventually trump the anti-competitive behaviour of the old media, or will they eventually see the opportunity and grab it, before illegal streaming of media on pirate websites?