Following up on my previous post, the concept of cable MSOs as the “Double Click” of television deserves a more in depth explanation.
A growing number of TV programs are consumed as one-to-one streams. All Internet video viewing such as YouTube, Netflix and Hulu are individual streams. On demand television viewing and DVR playback are programs streamed to one device. All of these streams are being played back from a hard drive somewhere.
It’s very easy to pause these streams – you can do it with your remote control or a key on your computer. The originator of the streams can pause them as well – in order to insert a commercial for example.
So what’s the point of all this interrupting and inserting? Extreme target-ability. Cable companies know the address where every stream ends up. Other databases know who lives in the house. If you really want it to get scary, consider that the Xbox Kinnect system, or something like it, can probably figure out which family member is watching.
But we don’t need to go to 1984 to get a system that would massively improve the targeting of television while protecting privacy. And there are lots of compelling ways such a system could incentivize viewers to voluntarily share information, much the way Web sites do.
The value of an individual commercial slot would grow enormously. Now, instead of a place to put one commercial, it would be a place where dozens of ads could run in different households and geographies. It’s an answer to how to reduce the number of commercials necessary to support quality programming.
The difference between Internet delivered television and cable delivered programming would be erased – essentially the same system could serve both. Live programming, like sports, could be delivered as a targeted stream just like any other content.
In fact, I expect that the percentage of programming viewed as a stream will steadily increase until it eclipses appointment TV. Then cable companies will be retiring cable networks, further expanding the bandwidth available for streaming.