The last hundred years or so have seen the introduction first of silent movies, then of sound movies, followed by television and color television. Moving images have great emotional and iconic power, and these technologies have had great cultural and economic impact.
We’re now seeing Internet-based video moving into the mainsteam. Netflix, for example, offers portions of their library for instant viewing, either on a PC or on a TV set (with adapter offered by several manufacturers.) Ventures, such as Snag Films (Ted Leonsis, Steve Case, and friends), have arisen to focus on Internet distribution of particular forms of content. (Documentaries, in Snag’s case.) Other ventures are focusing on enablement of Internet video for mobile devices. Improvement in wireline and wireless bandwiths makes it all feasible and affordable, and devices such as the iPad will make it increasingly convenient.
I’d like to discuss the emergence of Internet video from the standpoints of: Its impact on the structure of various industries, the investment opportunities and risks that it may create, and most of all its potential effects on culture and on the political environment. For starters, a few hypotheses:
1)Cable TV companies are going to have some issues, as Internet video encourages subscribers to buy only the Internet “pipe” and not the high-margin a la carte channels and channel bundles. The planned acquisition of NBC Universal by Comcast surely reflects in part a reaction to this prospect by Comcast CEO Brian Roberts.
2)Cable news channels, especially CNN with its massive and irritating presence in public places, are going to have more and more problems unless they get very, very creative.
3)There will be significantly increased distribution opportunities for new and lesser-known film-makers. Will making a film become as popular as starting a band?
The above are just for starters, and not particularly well-thought-out. Have at it!