Explode your TV

Explode your TV

: TV is about to explode, just as publishing is exploding thanks to the web and weblogs.

Many elements are coming together that will mean the barrier to entry to TV is dropped to the ground. Anybody can produce TV. Anybody can distribute TV. And TV will thus be able to serve any interest. Just as you no longer need a printing press to publish, you no longer need a tower (or cable or satellite) to broadcast.

Of course, that’s hardly a new prognostication. Many smart folks, like Adam Curry and Ernie Miller, have been writing about this for a long time (more links shortly). But now all the things that will make this happen are coming together quickly — why, as fast as global climate change in The Day After Tomorrow.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what Doc Searls started here and continued here regarding radio and I believe that the tsunami will come first to TV because:

: TV is more exciting to consumers.

: TV is more exciting to advertisers (who have been trying to turn the Web into TV ever since it started).

: Thus there’s more money in TV.

: There are also far greater savings in TV. Radio’s already cheap to produce. TV isn’t. But with new cameras and tools and citizen producers, just a few people (or even one person) can turn out decent TV today.

: TV does not bring with it the added expectation and difficulty of portability; we do expect to get radio everywhere but we don’t (yet) watch it in our cars (much).

Citizens TV will not look like the early efforts at TV online. It won’t be all edgy Atom films (nobody watches them). Neither will it exactly mimic broadcast and cable (why bother?). But you can, today, turn out useful TV with little effort and expense.

For example, you could with one camera person and one host and a little editing create a house remake show like the ones my wife and I now love to watch. You could create local shows about sports or politics. You could review movies. You could test drive cars or gadgets. You could teach people how to use, oh, PowerPoint. Or you could create source material: Tape the board of ed meeting and put it online. And then you can distribute it. And then you can get people to watch it.

Here’s how it comes together:

: Tools: It will take one now-inexpensive camera, one host, and some editing on inexpensive tools like Visual Communicator or even free, open-source tools, if you wish (Terry Heaton sent me to the work of Drazen Pantic, who can put an entire free editing suite on one bootable disc). That’s cheap.

: Distribution: You’ll no longer need to break into the cable or broadcast or syndication biz. You can put it up on the Internet. Once was, that would cost you a fortune in bandwidth. But thanks to BitTorrent and Broadcatching (see frequent Ernie Miller posts) — peer-to-peer distribution — the audience shares the cost. That (pardon me) is the wonder of distributed distribution.

: Marketing: The only way to market TV content in the past was, of course, to get distribution. But that changes in this new world where everyone can distribute. How does a weblog get seen? Because people link to it. How will citizens TV get seen? When weblogs and citizens link to it. Also see what Doc has been saying about sending out RSS notifications of new content.

Again, this isn’t all new but it is all coming together. I’ve been collecting links to stories that dance around all this in recent days:

: The New York Times today reports that TiVo will allow you to store and watch shows not just from cable and broadcast but also from the Internet. Soon you can create shows direct-to-TiVo.

: The BBC is going to change the way you watch the Olympics, allowing you to make your own sportscast.

: CableNewser reports that CNN is developing a broadband channel, competing with its cable channels.

: The Times also reported the other day about TV networks that can’t get on regular analog cable tiers and so they’re moving to the digital tier and then to the video-on-demand tier. Well, it’s not far at all to see them distributed on the Internet.

: See PaidContent.org’s coverage of Internet-delivered TV networks that go into boxes on your TV: Akimbo and TimeShiftv.com. And get a load of the programming they offer: niches of niches — Africa Movies, Asian Beauties, Billiard Club, OutOfTheCloset.tv, Sail.tv, The Yoga Learning Center.

: And, of course, see various pioneers who’ve been writing about all this for sometime: Adam Curry, Doc Searls, Ernie Miller, Dave Winer….

TV’s exploding before our very eyes. Can’t wait.