The online video revolution will be televisedâ€¦ on television
A New York Times “Bits” column has a great take on the new Netflix set-top box: “In the small, plastic box that is the new Netflix Player made by Roku, I think you can see the future of video.” Later in the piece, author Saul Hansell concludes:
The future of video is Internet streaming to the television.
This is something that many have felt and talked about for some time now, but there’s something about the new Netflix/Roku product that makes it feel a lot closer to reality. The fabulously cheap price ($99) coupled with the large Netflix subscriber base means that a mass audience is breathtakingly close to being able to download or stream thousands of movies and television shows directly to their television screens.
Taken only a few very-short steps further, we’re only inches away from plugging Flash into the player (Roku plans to add this feature), which then opens up the floodgates of online video. Further, allowing people to easily and at their convenience line up their download queues online further brings power and convenience to this combination.
But this really only gets into the beginning stages of what really is a revolution: people will soon find ways to select the first-run television shows and movies that they want to see a la carte without paying exorbitant cable television subscription rates. When that happens, the real revolution that is both plaguing the music industry while simultaneously energizing the music world will come to television and video.
Some other recent news stories to throw in the mix: HBO shows such as The Wire, Sex and the City, and Flight of the Conchords are proving to be highly popular on iTunes at a price of $1.99 an episode. I would personally pay $10 – $20 for a season of episodes that I highly anticipate, and if I could easily send them to my television set, all the more joyous. And if I could pay that fee while dropping some or all of my cable TV packageâ€¦ well, you see where this is going.
And heading back to the broadcast television experience itself, it seems that people are recording shows on DVRs more than ever before, with a full 3.78 million “time shifting” ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy.
The upshot: video on demand is a killer app of our age. The ability to watch a video (TV show or movie or an online video) on your television screen when you want to watch it, without worrying about and especially paying for programming that you don’t want, is inches away from being a reality for millions in the U.S. and worldwide.
In the meantime, I await the return of The Shield’s final season most eagerly and impatiently.