More to follow from Milia once I have tidied the rest of my notes up but I have been compelled to join in the blogosphere murmur, nay chatter about the turning point that happened today (Here are some of the reports MediaPost, HuffingtonPost, Yahoo!,). ABC to offer its top programmes online, free.

I am speaking at a small digital distribution seminar here in Sydney tomorrow and one of my key points is that advertising is still the biggest factor in legal media distribution.ABC/Disney have announced that the morning after all their new and popular programming (Lost, Commander in Chief, Desperate Housewives etc:) you can get them free over the web. If you think this sounds like a good deal (bit like the IMP from the BBC) don’t expect it to be ad free. From Yahoo!

The shows, being offered by the Disney-ABC Television Group, will be supported by advertisers, including AT&T Inc., Ford Motor Co., Procter & Gamble Co., Toyota Motor Corp. and Unilever PLC, among others.

The advertisers are falling over themselves to simply be where the eyeballs are. As legal digital distribution catches up with good old (user unfriendly) bitorrent the transition from scheduled to on-demand viewing is now becoming a race. If this was a cartoon race the slow shuffling down the lanes keeping an eye on one other has turned as one of the runners looks forward and begins to jog.

The strategy behind this is simple – if they (old biz model broadcasters) don’t move now then existing online portals (eg: MSN video, Google etc) will beging to develop their own ‘video content’ brand and place in the market – and attract the big ad revenues. Already advertisers all over the US have stated that their money is being channeled into online video distribution and away from traditional broadcast – so it seems obvious that broadcasters move their brand across to keep their hands on that ad dollar, before it is too late.

What this means is of course is that other fta broadcasters will start to jog forward, online will become a mass of free, ad funded (read: ad full) content, delivered through branded (albeit on-demand) channels – doesn’t sound that much different from the old model 😉 Almost feel as if individual content owners have missed their chance yet again – over to the aggregators and their 70%…

Posted by Gary Hayes ©2006