6/07/2005

Narrowcasting and IPTV

I need to learn more about two related phenomenon, narrowcasting and IPTV. Narrowcasts define themselves by contrast to broadcasts. The former is targeted, the latter less discriminate. IP stands for “internet protocol” – chopping a transmission into bits, sending out its parts electronically, then reassembling the whole at its destination. Sending television to niche audiences sounds like a big new opportunity.

For a concise summary of IPTV, including links for further exploration, read the entry at Answers.com. My one-sentence synopsis would be – with the ability to chop up video and deliver it via the Internet, television programs (an anachronistic phrase!) can be sent anywhere, even handheld devices.

Narrowcasting is the kindred concept – and though it may have slightly different meanings depending on who is using the term, the simple fact it is becoming possible to target video to small audiences. I am sure we will learn in time whether it is possible to make money in narrowcasting, as firms are already popping up to become the consolidators and deliverers of video narrowcasts. To start learning the names of these firms, I found an Associated Press article posted by Wired News. Oakland Tribune reporter Francine Brevetti (a colleague in the Northern California journalism community) recently wrote two related articles, one on IPTV in general, and the other on Akimbo, one of the emerging narrowcasters. A website called Internet Protocol Television seems to track developments in this arena.

At this point that’s all I know about IPTV. It isn’t much so I wont ramble on much longer, except to say that, having written about the tech industry for 20 years, I think this phenomenon is in the early stages of a long-lasting and fundamental shift, that could decentralization the distribution of video and will almost certainly revolutionize the nature of programming. Today we consume TV in 30 minutes chunks (allowing time for commercials). That is an artifact of the need to maintain a broadcast schedule. What happens in a narrowcast world? Well, over the next 10 or 15 years we’ll find out, and I’m sure I’ll have more to say on this – as I learn other things I think worth saying.

Tom Abate MiniMediaGuy Cause if you ain’t Mass Media, you’re Mini Media

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