Why TV Won’t Die?

Speaking at Always On conference, George Gilder, the fallen pundit, used his mumbling style and big words, to paint his vision for the future of TV. TV must die, he said. Mark Evans, correctly said it was “far from novel or insightful.” Given Gilder’s track record during the optical boom, it is hard to believe anything he has to say. Many a few times, I questioned his unbridled optimism and how it synced up with market and economic realities. Well, we know exactly what happened.

His view of TV doesn’t sync with market and (networking) realities. Still, Paul Kagan, a cable industry analyst, and Wired editor Chris Anderson are defending Gilder’s muddled view of the TV world.

Gilder, predicted death of TV in his 1992 book, Life After TV, and then again in Telecosm in 2000. Well its been 14 years, TV did not die, just mutated itself. Broadcast over the air, became broadcast over the pipe. It learned and adapted new tricks like VOD and PVR. But it did not die. TV will continue to mutate, slowly, but die? I might be long gone before that happens.

Mark Cuban writes, “George and others seem to think that unlimited choice is the holy grail of TV. It’s not.” I kinda agree with him. I have said that watching television is a passive activity – whereas unlimited choice makes it interactive. TV’s passivity is what makes it tick. Cuban follows his first post today with why Broadcast TV will never die. Mark, basically is answering the theoretical assertions of others by bringing up real technical and networking challenges of Internet TV.

> …the problem with IPTV is the N+1 Disaster. In an IPTV world, there isnt enough bandwidth reserved on the network so that if every channel is requested.

Consumers, not the early adopters, have a certain expectation from television. The quality of image is one such expectation. The networking infrastructure challenge of video-over-the-Internet cannot be understated. I think it will be many years before we will be able to get the same QoS on what Anderson describes as “Internet TV.” A proof of consumer expectation is VoIP services and the 911 brouhaha. Back to Gilder – before we take him seriously again, folks remember the past… just saying!

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