Over at NewTeeVee (a favorite blog of ours), Om Malik questions the logic of streaming live TV over the Internet. Echoing comments made by Business 2.0’s Erick Schonfeld, in reference to LiveStation, Malik writes:
In this age of hyper personalization, where DVRs are at our command, ready to playback the latest escapades of Vinnie Chase & the Boys, who needs live TV. Unless it is live sports extravaganzas, say NBA finals or SuperBowl (or Wimbeldon Tennis), television is no longer what appears on the TV Guide grid or on the hour.
Schonfeld goes even further, writing:
The Internet is the ultimate on-demand television system, where the choices of what to watch and when have no practical limits. The concept of live TV almost makes no sense in that context. Why limit your audience only to those people who can tune in at a certain time? … live TV will be a liability on the Web unless those streams are also stored for later viewing.
Having had Zattoo running on my desktop for the last couple of weeks, I’ve really enjoyed having a live TV stream playing in a small window in the corner of my laptop while at the same time: writing email, Instant Messaging, or blogging. If there is such a thing as background telly, then live TV on the Internet fits perfectly. Mostly I’ve had the BBC’s 24 hour news station playing, or on Sunday, for example, the men’s Wimbeldon tennis final. Proof, you could argue, that Schonfeld and Malik are right when they say that sports and ‘breaking’ news are the exception that proves the rule. However, I see another merit to live TV, over the net or otherwise.
From my review of Zattoo:
Another thing lost with on-demand television is the communal viewing experience that often creates those ‘water cooler’ moments the following day.
This brings me to one of Internet TV’s biggest challenges, whether live or on-demand. The water cooler is becoming increasingly virtual and global. And yet, too many Internet TV offerings are crippled by territorial rights restrictions.
A last100 reader left the following comment:
I’m waiting for border lines to become irrelevant with these services; I want to watch American cable TV, and I want my American family to be able to watch the BBC! I’m aware of the rights issues involved, but it seems so old world compared to what’s possible – hopefully someone can sort this out once and for all?
To which I replied: “Every Internet TV service I’ve tested which offers mainstream content, suffers from world rights issues. It’s a pain to say the least.” And the truth is — live or on-demand — I can’t see this changing anytime soon.