Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Web On Your TV Now

Over the past few days I polled a few random friends - who are not particularly technical in their orientation - and found that half (3 out of 6) regularly view web based video content on their TV screen. One friend simply connects his laptop to the TV monitor, another uses Apple TV, and the other streams Netflix TV shows and movies through his X-Box 360.

I was surprised by what I heard. But it turns out that a significant swath of the country is also connecting.

According to a new research study from The Leichtman Research Group (as reported in Media Post), 24% of US homes have a Web-TV-Connection.  As with my friends, the methods of connecting are many and varied - from video game consoles and Blue Ray players to Internet connected TV sets, Roku players and PCs/Laptops.

It is a highly fragmented market but clearly indicates that consumers want to take greater control of their TV viewing, bypassing the traditional distribution platforms. (The outrageous battle between Cablevision and ABC earlier this week that kept 3 million homes without the Oscar telecast for 20 minutes will only fuel this trend.)

The Networks who supply the content have some critical decisions to make in the immediate future. How do they make their content available on all these platforms without disrupting their enormous cable and satellite subscription business?

And how much do they charge for commercial-free versions (see my iTunes post about this) and what should the commercial load be for those who want to watch it online for free?

The market moved to 24% without anyone really noticing. The 50% threshold could be passed by the end of 2011.

The same day the Media Post article appeared, Walt Mossberg wrote a column in The Wall Street Journal describing some popular new ways to wirelessly beam web video from your computer to your TV screen.