Just came across an interesting piece in the Economist (November 9, 2013) on the growing popularity of online video in China that threatens TV. In fact, a recent Chinese government reports says that only 30% of Beijing households watched TV in 2012. Online video is big bucks in China with some 450 million viewers, or 80% of the connected population.
We haven’t seen this drift in the West where TV sets are on 5 hours a day in the average American home. That doesn’t mean China’s online video craze won’t happen here. Who could have predicted the rapid downturn in PC demand that followed the rise of tablets three years ago? Computers once priced in the $1000 range can be had now for $300 or less. What’s more, tablet users are increasingly prone to downloading Amazon or iTune TV and movie offerings to their tablets. Cable and satellite networks like DirecTV are catching on, and so you’re not confined to your TV anymore for personal viewing. There they are, with all the convenience of portability, right on your tablet! Hey, let’s not leave out Netflix.
And then there’s always been the ubiquitous YouTube, more popular than ever. Forbes.com tells us that in 2012 one hour of YouTube video was uploaded every second. In short, video making, like self-publishing, has become the province of the everyday Joe. According to Brent Weinstein, Head of Digital Media at United Talent Agency, “Online video today is what TV was a couple of years after it came on to the scene” (Forbes.com).
YouTube, in fact, has been a honing ground for developing sophisticated expertise, spilling over into start up multi-channel networks (MCNs) such as Ted, TubeFilter and Kaltura-Connect coms with their dedicate devotees.
The big ops can read the tea leaves. Just the other day I saw this catchy Hulu ad. Get your first week free, then enjoy your favorite TV shows on your tablet for just $7.95 monthly. With prices like that, cable and satellite TV had better watch out.
Of course we’re still talking about original TV programming, even if rechanneled; nevertheless, it isn’t hard to figure out where the math is taking us. The bottom-line is that a revolutionary change in how we get our information and entertainment is underway.
According to the Economist, Chinese online video entrepreneurs started competing directly with TV programming five years ago, coming up with their own programming. In the U. S, you can see this same trend reflected in Amazon, Netflix, and Hulu making their own programs to sidestep licensing costs and gain access to a potentially huge market. Very soon, we’ll be talking about mobile networks.
For families who like to do their viewing together, no problem. Internet TV is on its way and of course with Apple TV, no problem transferring your tablet videos, music and photos to a larger screen right now.
Usually the scenario is that when America sneezes, the world catches a cold. With China, what’s happening marks a seismic shift. Better, anyway, than its usual export of Asian flu!