"2006 was the year average people took TV broadcasting into their own hands", says David Pogue New York Times columnist. Also, taking a look back YouTube.com took the headlines. First, when it became a social phenomenon, and second, when Google agreed to buy it for $1.65 billion in stock.
YouTube.com was Google's simpler and more consistent rival. Google's video clips were surprisingly inconsistent: some were copy protected, some not; some free, some not; some downloadable; others viewable only online. Now, everybody is waiting to know how or weather Google will merge YouTube's video outlet.
HD-DVD vs. Blu-Ray: Stay out the battle one format wins
In 2006 we also saw the release of two high-definition DVD formats that promise better color, clarity and sound than regular DVDs: HD-DVD and Blu-Ray, which are incompatible.
As David Pogue says, "buy the wrong player, and you'll be locked out of movies that come in the other format". VHS vs. Betamax? "Stay out of the battle until one format wins"
Verizon's fiber optic FiOS will offer soon its Hi-Def TV platform
FiOS, the Verizon video and Internet service which uses fiber optic technology, will reach close to two million homes in the U.S. by the end of the year. Verizon will offer digital quality with advanced services that, for example, let customer start watching a program in one room, move to another room and pick up where they left off.
Besides that, FiOS will have much greater channel capacity and picture quality will be as good as any from broadcast digital TV. It does not have to compress the signal and its program feed. Verizon's vice president for video solutions claims that "our fiber-optic capacity gives us enough capacity to add as many HD channels as we can get our hands on."
Still many reasons to watch user-generated sites instead other sites
Why people watch copyrighted material on YouTube instead of the exact same clips on the original branded site? To name a few reasons, there are buffering issues, mandatory downloads, no direct URL o embed address to link on blogs.
Now Comedy Central plans to relaunch its player with embeddding functionality, and ABC is improving its player, too. Most of the networks are finding out what consumers want, conducting usability testing.
Early in the development
Definitely, the networks have some work to do if they want to lure viewers away from video-sharing sites like YouTube, where video content is far easier to find and watch. "We're still very early in the development of the broadband-video market", says the founder of Broadband Directions, a market-intelligence and consulting firm focusing of broadband video.
What works best is what's easiest to find and use. "Anything that requires six clicks before you're actually watching a video is real turnoff," adds.
Flash is almost the standard format for the TV networks
Most networks have designed their players to operate with Flash. ABC and NBC use Flash, and 56 of the top 75 cable networks offer Flash-only video, according to a recent Broadband Directions report.
One notable exception is Fox, which developed its own downloadable Fox On Demand player, which features a technology that communicates with computers every two seconds to determine the optimum speed the computer can handle.
The Fox exception
He adopted this decision after finding that 25%-45% of viewers complained of buffering issues with standard players. Fox spent eight months developing the player.
The common goal is to try to make Internet television as easy as regular television. For that, the networks seems to be determined to bring the highest-quality video possible to the largest number of people and to offer a theatrical experience more akin to watching a movie.
YouTube could face the same fate as Napster
Google is engaged in a frantic round of negotiations with traditional media companies, even offering tens of millions of dollars in upfront payment to halt any potential copyright lawsuits, and for the right to broadcast their video content legally on YouTube. Google CEO Eric Schmidt has met with top execs from CBS, Viacom, Time Warner, NBC Universal, News Corp and others with proposals to combine their content with Google’s ad network, according to Financial Times.
Some media executives speculate that if Google fails in its effort YouTube could face the same fate as Napster, the file-sharing service that gained enormous popularity seven years ago before the music companies sued it for copyright infringement and put it out of business. Many are also wary of helping Google achieve the dominance in distributing video on the internet that it already enjoys in the search advertising market.