Who needs a network?

There is a lot of buzz in the blogosphere, in the regular press and this morning on CBS News about Apple’s latest about to be relaeased maybe Apple TV.

That would make it the Apple TV 3, if I am counting properly.

I still have the 1. It’s a bit clunky but it works.

Apple (so it would seem) is going to try and do for (or with) TV what it has done so well with music.  iTunes allows you to pick, upload and pay for individual songs.
It was also the death of Tower Records, the record business in general, the CD business, CD players and probably a hundred other things.  Like so many other Apple products, it works.

TV would seem to be the ‘final frontier’ for a radical overhaul of how it works.  It has not changed in essence since the 1950s.  We broadcast, you watch. We broadcast what we want when we want – you watch.  Ads and all.

There may be more channels but the model is still pretty much 1952.

That makes it ripe for a change.

What kind of change?  Well, non-linear for starters.  TV is still a linear platform in a distinctly non-linear digital world.  With TV you still have to sit though endless hours of broadcasting in real time to get what you want to see.  You also have to watch it when ‘they’ decide they want to broadcast it to you.  Nowhere was this inherent dichotomy more strongly seen than during the recent London Olympics.

While The BBC was broadcasting 22 different live streams of 22 different events to multiple platforms in real time (so you you could pretty much see everything that was happening all the time whever you wanted), NBC, who held the US rights, was pre-recording, editing and then holding back on the broadcasts until prime time USA – often some 8 hours after the thing actually happened. And, if you wanted to see it, you could only see what NBC deigned to show you, when they deigned to show it to you.  Critics say that NBC made mega-profits and garnered a massive audience. Well, of course they did.  Viewers had no other choice.  Pravda also used to get massive readership in the Soviet Union. That didn’t mean that it was any good.

But let’s not pound NBC too hard.  After all, they’re only doing what every other broadcaster has been doing since the medium was invented. All of which says that it is ripe for change.

And what would that change look like?

Well, for starters, the stuff would come in through stream instead of broadcast.  Second, you could get what you wanted when you wanted, and third, you would probably only pay for what you wanted to watch.

Works for me.

We still have Time/Warner cable at home, though we barely watch TV, and when we do, I can count on one hand the number of channels we watch. (Amputate one finger for BBC America which dropped its nightly news show in favor of 8 hours of Top Gear re-runs).  Why should I have to pay for the others?

More importantly, with the infitiny of the Internet, the content limitations of linear cable or broadcasting go away.  AppleTV can carry Olympic events into 2 billion homes, but it can also carry the cooking show that you made at home (or with your friend, the NY Times food critic).

Networks cease to exist, not only as ‘broadcasters’ but also as the only ‘creators’ of content.

It’s a whole new world

(Assuming the chatter about AppleTV is true).

Let’s hope it is.