Hello there – back after a stimulating week in South Australia helping producers create a ‘personalized’ future. Will post a little about LAMP 1 in the coming week. For now though…

Remember these times because here comes the stampede to the ‘broadband well’ – the start of the big transition from traditional broadcast to broadband has begun. It had to happen sooner or later of course. The traditional dominant broadcasters have finally noticed that their audiences are moving to “greener, more user generated pastures”. What to do? Buy the “greener pastures” of course – while you still have a chance.

Announced yesterday MTV have just invested $49mill in iFilm aiming to deliver its brands and advertising across the current 10 million users of the iFilm site. Let me see $49 million divided by 10 million…roi, roi… One can imagine where they will take iFilm as MTV also recently launched an internet only channel called mtvU – aimed squarely at the 730 subscribing university campus’s. As one might expect MTV is running a traditional peer-review model and encouraging users to upload student band videos. If it gets voted the best it could end up on the multi-platform show “The Cut”. There is also the traditional vote for the best Film Short and potential TV outing.

As reported by my old friend William from Informitv this week we have another ‘dinosaur’ namely News Corp’s Sky in the UK wielding £1 billion trying to find the next toy – Sky buying broadband TV operation. It is fun watching Sky putting its hand in it’s deep pockets and no takers, as yet – one can see a time when all the shelves are empty and there are still a few at the back of the queue – I think News Corp will be queue hopping quite a bit over the next year 😉 It would make sense that Sky would start to leverage it’s dominance of the UK digital content market as it has been far too reliant on purely Digital Satellite distribution and as its PVR is only around 10% of its nearly 8 million subscribers – VOD and broadband TV are attractive toys on the shelf. If it did get a service like Homechoice (the worlds first just turned to MP4 broadband TV operation) then as well as IPTV triple play services it could begin to offer broadband delivery to its Sky+ boxes, albeit in the London area, but no doubt Sky would like to begin its foray into Home Media Centers before microsoft or even now apple start to move in.

UPDATE: Sky acquire Easynet

It is not just av centers. As you may recall last month News Corp also bought IGN Entertainment one of the biggest online games companies for $650mill. We are also seeing a range of aquisitions not necessarily in the broadband video area but certainly aimed fair and squarely at user generated content. Led by the $580m purchase of MySpace by News Corp I start to wonder what is driving this and where it is headed.

I can’t imagine just yet that News Corp are that scared of Google or Yahoo! not yet surely? Are MTV threatened by a few amateur music video sites? Is News Corp’s flagship satellite broadcaster worried by video-on-demand take-up in the UK making broadcast satellite redundant ? Well actually I can imagine it and my only concern is that rather than allow time for new business models to emerge and smaller players to build up momentum towards true democratisation of content distribution – we will have the old models trickle over, acquisition by acquisition. I just hope that the creative thrust that started these peer-review and blogging enterprises doesn’t get squeezed out by corporate man-handling. I suspect this flurry of broadband and community acquisition will continue unabated for the next few years until we have a handful of dominant players locking up the internet, over-branding, saturating everything with ads, making profits with cheaper dumbed down content, reducing the amount of content we can get at a higher price – hold it, that’s today’s model. Theres nothing new under the sun.

Posted by Gary Hayes ©2005