Weekly Feature


Intertube: The World of Online Video

December 31, 2007
by findingDulcinea Staff
Our fifth installment explores the online video community, and ways to connect with it.

Out with the Old, in with the New

The surge in popularity of online television is giving some in the local TV markets cause for concern. NBC Universal, News Corporation, and CBS unveiled online video networks, all in evidence of a growing shift away from conventional broadcasting.

An article in CNET News goes in-depth on the issues, highlighting the uncertainty being felt by local affiliate stations as TV media moves into new territory.

The Telegraph takes a look at the state of online video in 2007, reviewing what kind of programming is offered, the way in which it's viewed, and its potential impact on the number of people who watch broadcast television.

Prime Time Online

A new trend in the way major networks are airing their programs is giving viewers the freedom to watch their favorite TV shows on their own schedule. Now, the days of rushing home from school or work, cutting dinners short, and telling friends or family you'll call back after Grey's Anatomy are a thing of the past. With nothing more than a standard Internet browser (that's right; no annoying plug-ins to download) you can surf your way to quality programming using your mouse as the remote.

ABC was the first network to bring its viewers free, unabridged content via the Web. ABC.com posts episodes from all of its top shows the day following their broadcast debuts. The network has recently upgraded its player to afford high-quality, full-screen viewing, and has expanded content to include clips from daytime and late-night shows, in addition to the prime-time lineup.

Beyond providing viewers with full-length episodes of shows like Heroes, 30 Rock, and My Name Is Earl, NBC.com is a great place to find extras and expanded coverage of other great shows. For instance, Late Night with Conan O'Brien has a page (found under the "Shows" link) with a host of video clips, a message board, a blog, and links to bizarre, Conan-conceived Web sites, such as HornyManatee.com.

When prime-time programming isn't enough, feed your TV craving at CBS.com. The site’s video section not only offers complete episodes for top shows like CSI (in all its iterations) and Survivor, but also presents episodes of CBS News, a limited selection of movies, specials (like The Grammys), and daytime soaps.

Television Pirates Sail the Web

The recording industry faced a media piracy crisis a few years ago, with services such as Audio Galaxy, Napster, Kazaa, and Limewire enabling the fast, seamless downloading of nearly any song a user desired. Teenagers, college students, young professionals—almost everyone—became collectors, wildly consuming music at rates in excess of the time they actually have to listen to it all, and with little or no remorse. No matter how its practitioners rationalized it, audio downloading was standardized robbery.

Today, the problem is by no means under control, even in the face of aggressive litigation, but the heyday of illegal downloading is over. While the technology becomes ever more advanced, programs that allow you to share video and music libraries through the Web become so popular so rapidly, they are quickly brought down by the law.

Guerrillas In the Midst

What about video robbery? For a long time, large file sizes, weak graphics capabilities, and slow network speeds prevented pirated video entertainment from being distributed online. But recent technical improvements enable significant illegal activity. Hollywood and the major television networks are confronting the existence of guerrilla video sites like YouTVpc and PeekVid. Compared to a site like YouTube, which hosts video content on its own servers, these guerrilla sites serve as gateways, directing viewers to video clips that are often stored in overseas locations. These sites claim that because none of the content is on their computers, they're not breaking any laws. Such sites could offer consumers an exhaustive list of programming, uninterrupted by advertising, viewable upon demand; that’s the ultimate threat.

This article from Ars Technica assesses Google's role in online video piracy, citing users who abuse their Google Video service by feeding guerrilla sites.

What's On?

TV Guide, the magazine synonymous with program listings, is now online, with all-free content. Simply enter your location and specify your cable provider, and TV Guide will produce an easy-to-browse list of shows and air times. The site also has articles and episode guides.

An article in the Wall Street Journal discusses uniting television and the Internet once and for all. How? Simply by making online video “faster and smarter,” and opening up the tube and digital dialogue even further.

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