The television is about to become the latest medium to get a major makeover at the hands of the Internet. Already more than half of Americans are watching TV and surfing the web simultaneously. But another trend — giving connectivity to the device itself — is going to fundamentally change the business models around television and the way we consume and interact with content.
Yahoo, which has been an early mover in the space, anticipates that 8 million to 10 million devices with its Connected Television platform preinstalled will be in consumers’ hands by March 2011. That’s triple the amount in March 2010, according to Russ Schafer, Yahoo’s senior director of product marketing for the platform. Market research firm iSuppli estimates that by 2014 some 148 million televisions with Internet connectivity will be sold annually.
Millions of consumers who buy televisions from the likes of Samsung, LG and Sony won’t just be plugging into the programming offered by their satellite or cable provider, they’ll also be able to access applications ranging from Facebook to eBay and view content from a limitless number of video publishers.
That represents a shift similar to what we saw in print media, where the Internet (and mobile phones) opened up the opportunity for anyone to become a content creator. Blip.tv, which bills itself as a “next generation television network,” has been eyeing this trend since 2005, hosting thousands of independently created shows. Now, according to cofounder Dina Kaplan, blip.tv is serving up nearly 100 million views each month (or, put another way, about 10% of the combined audience of the major TV networks) across the web, mobile devices and, increasingly, Internet-connected televisions.