With many digital mediums available to us right now, it was just a matter of time before someone began to merge and combine two of them together. It already happened with cellphones and online social networking, as the popularity of iPhones demonstrates to us. Then there’s the Internet and television – two different mediums; one you use for all your communication and information needs, the other is maybe more for entertainment use – something to sit down in front of following a long hard day, letting you mentally ‘switch off’ ;.Yet considering how much time in a day we tend to invest in front of some type of computer nowadays, it’s no real surprise that online gurus are taking advantage of the popularity of television and have created Internet websites that permit you to determine which TV show or program you wish to watch – on demand.

What’s the deal?

In 2006, a fresh episode of the TV series Lost was aired online – around 11 million viewers it. Also in 2006, market analysts Jupiter Research reported that around 11 per cent of computer users regularly watch videos on the internet. A year later, this figure had jumped to 28 per cent, and it kept on jumping as each year went by – presumably due a lot to YouTube and its easy accessibility and free videos. Yet even the web sites which can be charging for his or her TV shows to be looked at are increasing in popularity as more folks spend more time online.

With regards to cost, almost all online television is free, using the traditional concept of advertisements and banner ads to create their money. The US ABC recently announced they will make their shows available to see online the afternoon after they’ve aired on television, for free. The only catch is that the commercials scattered amongst the shows will be unable to be paused. These commercials may also be limited in number – probably only three, being 1 minute in total each – and is going to be all from exactly the same advertiser, undoubtedly maximizing their impact on the audience watching. You will see how this idea is increasingly attractive to businesses that are able to afford this kind of major bulk advertising.

The buzz of 2010: Social TV

But the development hasn’t stopped there. ‘Social television’ is the modern kid on the block, merging the idea of online television with the online phenomenon that is social media. In summary, it’s TV services that involve viewers’ communication. We may now watch our favourite television programs online, whilst reaching others doing exactly the same – making recommendations, critiquing, chatting, and blogging with each other. It’s adding one more thing to the long list of ‘togetherness’ that the Internet is creating. Obviously we have always ‘socialized’ around the idea of TV, even with the simplest type of discussing shows with friends – but the new idea listed here is television will now be an active practice rather than passive one. You can discuss shows, review your favourites – basically interact with the entire world around you whilst enjoying your TV experience. And in some sort of that seems to be enjoying online and social networking with gusto, this may appear to become a concept that is preparing to take off.

WineLibrary TV is a good exemplory case of how internet television can assist in boosting a small business brand – as well as be the entire brand in itself. Gary Vaynerchuk took his multi-million wine selling business to the online world as a means of educating his viewers about wine in a ‘non-stuffy’ way. Such a hit, WLTV has turned into a cult favourite, with self-named ‘Vayniacs’ interacting regularly together on its online forums. romania iptv They even organize offline group gatherings in the tradition of die-hard fan clubs. That is social television at its best – viewers have found something they’re enthusiastic about, can view and learn about it online, and be involved in interactive communities.

The big players

There is a sizable range of online television websites, besides actual channels’ own sites – the most well-known perhaps being Hulu, which ABC, FOX and NBC together created in order to bring television shows with their viewers – without any profit. Available simply to US viewers, its popularity probably stems from its availability of hit TV shows the morning after they’ve aired on normal television. Hulu airs commercials in normal commercial breaks – the sole difference is that you’re watching them through the Internet. Another internet television station was 18 Doughty Street, well-known in the online TV world since it claims to be the first British Internet-based television station. Interestingly, although only running for only a little over a year, the TV station closed down in the midst of attempting to produce a ‘citizen journalism’ element to its site, allowing people to submit videos to be aired. Perhaps if this had succeeded, it could have been one of many first endeavors to the now more commonly accepted concept of social television.

Where you should from here

So where does the future lie with this particular clever combination of two popular mediums? Perhaps soon we will see the demise of the traditional television since it becomes easier and cheaper to view our favourite shows online. However some dismiss this notion of internet television, due to the association of our PCs with work and stress, instead of the TV as a spot to ‘switch off’ and relax whilst watching our favourite shows. In some sort of where we wish things here and now, and with a generation on the rise that was multi-tasking digital technology whilst still in nappies, it will make sense that folks will be expecting quicker and easier-to-use combinations of the world’s best mediums. Plus if this may combine with the ‘social’ facet of the online world that folks so love, then even better.

Channel surf from your… computer chair?

Take Diggnation being an example. This is a weekly internet tv program that was created by the founder of Digg.com (a website where everyone can submit articles, images and videos) and a pal in 2005, which basically includes the 2 friends drinking beer, chatting and discussing the top stories that made Digg.com that week. Sometimes referred to as ‘the Wayne’s World for Geeks’, the show has increased its viewer numbers through the years. Its popularity deemed mostly to be its interesting content and ‘I’d be friends with this guy in real life’ hosts. It has become so popular that advertisers began approaching them for space on their show to market. Forums show that folks love diggnation because it’s relevant, relaxed and actually entertaining. Fans of Digg.com (and there’s plenty of them) watch it because that’s what it is all about – digg.com.

Making you wonder – is this where the future of online TV goes? Countless number of smaller, topic-specific online TV shows that’ll cause the most popular lament ‘I watched it because there’s nothing else on’ to become a thing of the past. If more and more television shows pop up online as more and more ‘average Joes’ use free Internet space to produce them, then surely we shall all find our favourite shows there even as we seek out topics which in fact genuinely interest us. Or will you and I have our own channels? Will your company? Now there’s an interesting thought…

iQuantum is promoting a proprietary analysis process to online benchmark client websites contrary to the sites of market-leading competitors and against best practice. Our online analysis is both quantitative and qualitative, and the answers are presented in simple, digestible terms included in a personalised strategy workshop. We are marketers at the roots, so we understand the importance of laying-out strategy in a bang-for-buck manner, and so we always present the company case for or against any online initiative with a quantifiable justification.

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