Its On! (Free Internet TV - Watch TV Online)

Get ready because "there's going to be television out the wazoo!" This according to Jonathan Klein, the president of CNN - U.S. operations in a USA Today story on the merger of the Internet and television. Major broadcast networks, cable networks, and content providers are gearing up for the 'mother of all media battles' in staking out territory on the new and rising medium called "Internet TV". Basically it's video online, which is not new, but what is new is that the major networks are now getting fully involved. Klein continued, "It will be pausable, searchable, with all the customizable 'on demand' advantages of the Internet. It's a future that's not very far away" Klein did not elaborate on how long it will take, what a 'wazoo' is, or how a television would fit through it.

CNN has recently changed it's Internet news business model by trashing the $5.00 per month subscription price for video, in favor of a pure advertising model. The coverage is more extensive, and finally it's for free. The way they previously baited news junkies was unconscionable.

CNN Online: "Breaking Story: A reporter was caught with his 'camera on' as Marines repelled a surprise attack by al Queda in Afghanistan ... click here to see video."

Me: "click"

CNN Online: "First we need you to fill out this form and sign this contract!"

Me: "Oh...shoot me now...!"

I prefer being slowly brainwashed with banners and branding ads, than being harassed to cough up a credit card, don't you?

CBS News which sat on the sidelines while its competitors ran the table with 24 hour cable news will not be trumped again. They recently opened up and is investing big bucks in beefing up the video. You can even pick the reports to customize your own newscast.

Nippon TV in Japan is a step ahead in Internet TV and will be offering pay-per-view services by the end of the year. Their marketing department has also come up with a brilliant and creative name: "The Second Nippon Television Network".

Major broadcasters like ABC, ESPN, Foxnews, Major League Baseball, MTV, BBC, Telemundo and others already offer video online with a TV-ish feel but a tidal surge of new programming is just on the horizon.

Cable TV made room for specialty channels targeting smaller audiences such as the Golf Channel, and the 4-hanky super-drama "Bassmaster", now we can expect Internet TV to diversify even more. For example, the parent company of HGTV and The Food Channel will launch 10 Internet channels by 2006, the first one being "The Kitchen Remodel Channel." I kid you not. Maybe the first spinoff show will be "The Linoleum Channel". I'm hoping for the "The Chain Link Fence Channel."

Netflix, the online movie rental company, is in negotiations with the studios over the rights to broadcast movie content online. Will the cable industry continue to provide the cable modem broadband services that allow web-surfers to get movies from their competitors? Stephen Burke, COO of Comcast believes that web video watchers only want short clips and doesn't see any threat to their core business by people downloading movies. Ned Peabody, a blacksmith in 1890, also said that the horseless carriage was a noisy smoky bucket of bolts and would never replace the dependable horse. OK, I made that up, but I bet there was a blacksmith who said something like that. Anyway, you get my point. If movies can be purchased for a reasonable price, downloaded quickly, with good quality, and played on a large monitor, how will that not take a big bite out of the "Movies On-Demand", and Pay Movie Channels of Comcast, Time-Warner and other cable providers?

Yes, we're heading right into the perfect storm of four major influences conflagrating simultaneously creating ripe conditions for a world wide sea change!

1) Video imaging technology is coming of age. The picture is reasonably clear now on a computer or TV monitor without squinting and migraine headaches.

2) Broadband use reached 35 million users and is rising rapidly. That means that there are 40% less computer keyboards being smashed in frustration, ripped out of the computer, thrown against the wall and then kicked while the person waits endlessly for choppy video streams. (That stat may be just in my household)

3) Online advertisers are paying big time, spending 11.2 billion this year alone. Entrepreneurs like that "B" word.

4) Most importantly, video storage and streaming is now cost effective and will make a lot people rich. Or should I say, a lot of rich people, richer.

So lets review: ...the mother of all media battles...the chain link fence channel...horseless carriages...and a perfect storm. "It's On!"

Maybe one day we'll each have our own channel. But if there's 6 billion channels and still nothing on, what then? Maybe we can go outside, take a hike and get some exercise? Or we can get on our treadmills and watch "The Walking Channel." Hey, that sounds like a good idea! Here's the slogan, "Where do you want to walk today?" It's video and sound on serene paths from all around the world. Trust me, if it's not available now, it will be. Maybe you're the one to do it. Send me a percentage!

Rick David writes a feature column entitled, "Don't Laugh, It Could Happen To You" for San Diego Merchant

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