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Sunday, 28 January 2007 19:38

Internet to revolutionise television in five years, says Gates. Did he miss the memo?

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, the man who didn't see the internet revolution coming, has finally realised the internet will revolutionise television - but he thinks not for another five years.

Addressing the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, Gates said more and more viewers will abandon traditional television over the next five years, reports Reuters. They will trade television's fixed program times and advertisements for the flexibility offered by online video.

Someone needs to sit this man down an explain to him that, once again, he's missed the boat. People are already abandoning the idiot box. The internet revolutionised television when the early file-sharers rubbed two sticks together about five years ago and realised P2P was good for video as well as music. People are already sick of traditional television, not just the fixed program times but the lack of fixed program times. Television networks treat viewers with contempt, but viewers can finally do something about it.

For years, television shows such as Lost and Prison Break are available for download within hours of screening in the US. Once people have high-speed internet access, it doesn't take them long to realise it's easier to download DVD quality copies of their favourite shows, recorded from US television, than it is to try to keep up erratic television programmers. The fact you can watch it when you please and there are no ads - including those annoying ads for other programs that networks insist on running over top of the show you're trying to watch - makes it even more appealing.

Television is already fighting back, making shows more interactive and even offering TV shows for legitimate download. Sites such as YouTube are also changing people's viewing habits, whether it be watching clips of teenagers lip-syncing in their bedrooms or watching full length TV shows, which YouTube seems still unable to stop people uploading.

The revolution is already here and it will not be televised. Somebody better tell Bill.

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