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Not surprisingly Netflix and other IP TV (internet protocol) service providers see the end of free to air (FTA) TV, sooner rather than later.

Instead of a TV channel you will have an app - sports, news, movie and adult… Netflix says Internet TV must become content driven served by apps.

Netflix published a long term view which states that people are turned off the linear TV experience. Linear means serial programming, waiting a week for the next in a series and hundreds of channels but nothing to watch. DVR players, pay TV and even video on demand are not convenient enough to guarantee their respective futures according to Netflix.Of course Linear TV providers disagree.

Netflix acknowledges that for IP TV to take over the internet needs to be faster, more reliable and more available (ubiquitous). Once that is achieved any computing device from a smartphone to a huge smart TV (the internet of everything) will take over as the medium to view content. Once that happens apps will become the modus operandi “Did you watch ‘whatever’ on Channel X last night” will be replaced by “Did your app show you ‘whatever’ last night” – or so they hope.

It all makes sense. There is so much content out there from the black and white classics to futuristic 3D sci-fi. An app is needed just to know what episodes of what programs you have watched, let alone what series you have missed and should see. Instead of settling for what is on the box it should be about a higher intelligence planning what you would like to see when and where you get the chance.

Linear TV channels are already concerned at declining ratings and realise that free “catch-up” is the tip of the iceberg i.e. content on demand. Netflix says that the FTA, shotgun approach advertising supported model is outmoded (FTA has always been somewhat of a misnomer except on the ABC where your taxpayer dollars are at work) and IP TV allows for more targeted advertising – it is all about delivering qualified viewers to the advertisers.

Netflix is concerned that it will end up competing for the viewer’s available time – a huge content cesspool where an advertising supported model will be the norm. Netflix thankfully thinks that discerning viewers (aren’t we all) would prefer a commercial free, unlimited viewing subscription model. I have to agree – I wear out more remote control fast forward buttons trying to skip advertisements.

The conundrum is can Netflix generate sufficient revenue to pay for quality content? It says it can “Within TV show area, we primarily provide long-lived TV shows that are enjoyable 5 years after they are produced (in contrast to one shot real time or reality shows)”. Netflix believes intelligent apps and access to extensive content and genres will be the key to their success.

Opinion:

Finding content to watch may be the next big thing for search engines like Google. It may lead to a Pandora Internet radio style of ‘TV Genome project’ where you put in your favourite shows, genres, actors and themes and the app finds content at the best available price or quality to serve to you.

I agree with Netflix that channels will be replaced and apps will serve local and specific content. Now the real issue is should I watch TV, go to the pub or have a nice walk?

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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