The world of the internet will soon be on television, thanks to a host of new services. But what’s worth watching and will it pay?by Peter Bazalgette / December 15, 2010 / Leave a comment
The YouTube video “Double Rainbow” could be on your TV soon
In July, my Smallscreen column was about all the joys of video-on-demand, pointing out how it is available on your televisions, PCs and iPads if you own a games console or subscribe to Virgin cable. Were Prospect readers paying attention? Was there a stampede to BBC iPlayer, 4OD and ITV Player? Apparently not, as the percentage of us watching shows in this way remains tiny. But 2011 might see this change, with the arrival of the next, and possibly last, revolutionary leap in television. YouView, Google TV and others will swamp the market with set-top boxes that will connect our televisions to the internet. And if you haven’t been persuaded by the chance to watch shows when you feel like it, rather than when the schedule dictates, then consider the wealth of content that lies beyond tellyland.
Within four years, video may account for 90 per cent of all internet traffic. Because we can only see this stuff on our computing devices at the moment, peak viewing is at lunchtime. That’s when we’re looking for something to watch while consuming our tofu salads and organic carrot juice at our workstations. But it will be a different matter when internet television is added to “sit back” entertainment at home. Already media buyers are paying television-style rates for the pre-roll adverts served before selected YouTube clips (YouTube accounts for more than 80 per cent of videos viewed online). In other words, internet video is starting to resemble television’s economic model. Here is a timely review of some current YouTube favourites, soon to be available on our domestic television sets.
“Double Rainbow” features wobbly video of this meteorological phenomenon in the Yosemite National Park, with a voiceover from a cameraman who may have been smoking something powerful, giving new meaning to the phrase “happy camper.” It has been viewed 20m times. “Unforgivable” is a stream-of-consciousness tirade by a black man parodying Afro-Caribbean attitudes to women. His first rant attracted 15m views, giving rise to a series of follow-ups. And 4m have watched “Wasted Guy at Coachella,” in which an inebriated music fan has an existential struggle with his flip-flops. These “user-generated” clips do not usually come with adverts because their success was unpredicted. Advertisers prefer professional content, which they also regard as safer (it’s referred to as a “well-lit area”).