Friday, April 06, 2007

The death and rebirth of television

Wired has a multi-part story on television's history and potential future.

From "The TV is Dead. Long live the TV:"

"Traditional TV won't be here in seven to 10 years," says Kim Moses, co-producer of CBS' popular Ghost Whisperer, who has just launched a short-form version of her own show online. "It's changing so fast that I don't know if it's even going to be that long."

"What's really happened is the disintegration of the traditional programming supply chain," says Ross Rubin, director of industry analysis for the NPD Group. "TV has become more of a portal into a wide range of video sources than an integrated device and service."

"We have more choice now, and more creative outlets," says Jeff Jarvis, a former critic for TV Guide and creator of Entertainment Weekly magazine, who now writes the influential new media blog Buzz Machine. "That yields better TV."

"The cost of producing a good show has come down so far that someone can produce a good sitcom out of a living room, or a good drama out of the garage," says Dina Kaplan, chief operating officer of, which hosts independent video programming. "The gatekeepers of an NBC or CBS will have a lot less power in five years than they have now."

"Judging our new television based on what is here today is foolhardy," says Jarvis. "In five years it will be populated by many more niches, be much more open, and be far more interactive. We'll see a vast, wonderful explosion of talent."

From "Living Room Entertainment - in the Car:"

"BMW is taking the TV out of the living room and onto the road with a new multimedia entertainment system that combines all the elements of a TiVo crossed with an Apple TV, a satellite box and a multimedia cell phone.

Equipped with a 20-GB hard drive mounted behind the dashboard, the entertainment system can sync movies and TV shows from a home computer while the car is parked in the garage.

On the road, content can be downloaded or recorded for later viewing (or listening) via a satellite link or a cell-phone network, just like a mobile TiVo, or a phone that can buy songs or ringtones wirelessly.

"We said, 'Let's think about a telematics component that extends the entertainment experience,'" said Hans-Jörg Vögel, who heads the BMW research team for the project.

Vögel said BMW plans to roll out new multimedia options incrementally: This year it's iPod connectivity; next year it might be Wi-Fi synchronization with a home computer.

"We don't want to reinvent any podcasting models, but could give you access to the podcasts in a flexible and easy way inside the car with your existing subscriptions," Vögel said. "You car wakes up at 5 a.m., goes online for 10 to 15 minutes and then synchronizes all of the content you would ever need for that day of driving."

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