Oxford St © Gary Hayes 2006

Before I go onto the cross-media element of this post, a commercial lead in – Another week, another “the day tv (or something closely related) died” article. Ashley Vance of the register is the next person trying to get their name in the “I told you so” history books by trotting out the same old mantra. This item subtitled “The day bundled cable died”, points out that rather than peer-to-peer being the murderer of trad TV models, this is friendly fire from his local neighborhood in Cupertino, from page 2 of the article…

“We’ll all look back on this deal as the day that TV delivery changed in earnest.
Apple has managed to repeat its tradition not of discovering something new but of doing something obvious first.
Plenty of MP3s players existed before the iPod. Apple just made the obvious better design and the obvious better store and backed it up with the obvious better marketing. That’s not to say this is easy. It’s just obvious.
Similarly, pushing TV via the internet isn’t a new idea. Doing it well is an obvious path to a promising business.
Apple receives great praise for moving at a turtle’s pace when the rest of the industry moves at a crippled turtle’s pace.
Beyond adding some real glamour to the downloadable TV show market, the Daily Show show deal spells the beginning of the end of bundled cable. We’re not going to go BusinessWeek on you and suggest that Apple will somehow undermine decades of TV development overnight. Not at all.”

Exactly – Apple is not undermining, they are part of the natural evolution of audio visual distribution – helping it along a broadband and on-demand future by creating valid and workable business models. So will those folk wandering the streets (read: conferences and newspaper opinion columns) with the “end of the world” placards, please stop, it is very boring. What did and still does to a large extent, undermine the ability for creatives to make a living from their work was illegal file sharing(read: freely redistributing something the creator of would have preferred to be paid for so they can afford to live and make the next thing) . This world simply terrified traditional media makers into catatonia and like the music industry a few years ago, there was a knee jerk reaction.
But with video (what we use to call films and TV) there is a very bright future ahead as others follow in the footsteps of Apple. With Google, Yahoo!, AOL, Microsoft and Amazon all trying to retrofit good looking, pay-per-download models into their current ‘interfaces’ we can expect to see a ‘survival of the fitest’ world. What makes one fitter than the other will be interesting. Will it be the interface? Apple already have a lead. Will it be ease of use, in terms of integration with hardware? Will it simply be price, quality of content and choice?

Like Interactive TV did in the UK during the first couple of years of this century we can see the new world settle by osmosis, plagarism and a common look and feel dictated by consumers voting with their ‘purchase this or that’ fingers – there will be common design aesthetic and mode of interaction to get to your content whether on large screen in the living room, various pc screens or mobile devices. So onto a simple cross-media business model. The true winners will be ones offering packages of content that exist across a range of ‘screens’ – so from the enlightened portals you can buy content (and not the same content) for your ‘suite of life devices’. I would tell the system about my Razr 3G phone, my broadband PC connection, my IPTV link, my video iPod and PDA etc: and it would prepare for me a buffet, a story world of content around the property I am interested in. Why for example would I just buy a film for my sofa screen, then be expected to buy same item on the pc and mobiles? I would expect to be wooed by clever content design so I can watch the film in one environment, read more in another, hear audio interviews in another or even better have the story continue with me, where I am, on what I decide to continue the journey on. Anyway there will be a lot more on the basic models of integrated distribution and 360 properties at the service level very soon – but I will leave you with a further quote from the ‘death of…” article which helps sum up the ‘go and do it’ thinking before the next stage thinking after simple on-demand models…

We imagine that a couple of up-starts will rise and give Apple a real challenge at their own game. That tends to be the way technology-heavy markets operate. Such variety should be welcomed. If this doesn’t happen, the media companies will only have themselves to blame for allowing Apple to control their TV shows as well as their music. Don’t depend on a company as woefully inept as Google. Create a joint venture capital arm to develop independent media warehouses. Invent something great and give it away via open source. Do something. Do anything. Just don’t whine about your own ineptitude. We’ve grown so very tired of that.

Posted by Gary Hayes ©2006